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Q2EtitI)  TsTotcs  anti  Blustrations. 

BY  J.  A.  GILES,  D.C.L., 







"  William  of  IMalmesburt,"  according  to  archbishop  Usher, 
"  is  the  chief  of  our  historians  ;"  Leland  records  him  "  as  an 
elegant,  learned,  and  faithful  historian  ;"  and  Sir  Henry 
Saville  is  of  opinion,  that  he  is  the  only  man  of  his  time  who 
has  discharged  his  trust  as  an  historian.  His  History  of  the 
Kings  of  England  was  translated  into  English  by  the  Rev. 
John  Sharpe,  and  published  in  quarto,  in  1815. 

Though  the  language  of  Mr.  Sharpe's  work  is  by  no  means 
so  smooth  as  the  dialect  of  the  present  day  would  require, 
yet  the  care  with  which  he  examined  MS S.,  and  endeavoured 
to  give  the  exact  sense  of  his  author,  seemed  so  important  a 
recommendation,  that  the  editor  of  the  present  volume  has 
gladly  availed  himself  of  it  as  a  ground-work  for  his  own 
labours.  The  result  of  this  plan  is,  that  the  public  are  en- 
abled to  purchase  without  delay  and  at  an  insignificant 
expense,  the  valuable  contemporary  historian,  who  has 
hitherto  been  like  a  sealed  book  to  the  public,  or  only  acces- 
sible through  a  bulky  volume,  the  scarcity  of  which  served 
to  exclude  it  from  all  but  public  libraries  or  the  studies  of 
the  wealthy. 

But  the  translation  of  IMr.  Sharpe  has  by  no  means  been  re- 
printed verbatim.  Within  the  last  ten  years  a  valuable 
edition  of  the  original  text,  with  copious  collations  of  MSS., 
has  been  published  by  the  English  Historical  Society.  This 
edition  has  been  compared  with  the  translation,  and  numerous 
passages  retouched  and  improved.  Some  charters,  also,  have 
been  added,  and  a  large  number  of  additional  notes  appended 
at  the  foot  of  the  pages,  together  with  a  few  other  inaprove- 
ments  and  additions  calculated  to  render  this  interesting  his- 
tory more  acceptable  to  the  reading  public. 

Bamjpton,  June^  1847. 

^0 if  303 

J.  A.  G. 



The  author  whose  work  is  here  presented  to  the  public  in 
an  English  dress,  has,  unfortunately,  left  few  facts  of  a  per- 
sonal nature  to  be  recorded  of  him  ;  and  even  these  can  only 
be  casually  gleaned  from  his  own  writings.  It  is  indeed 
much  to  be  regretted  that  he  who  wrote  so  well  on  such  a 
yariety  of  topics,  should  have  told  so  little  to  gratify  the 
curiosity  of  his  readers  with  respect  to  himself.  Every 
notice  of  such  an  ardent  lover  of  literature  as  Malmesbury, 
must  have  been  interesting  to  posterity,  as  a  desire  to  be 
acquainted  with  the  history  of  those  who  have  contributed  to 
our  instruction  or  amusement  seems  natural  to  civilized  man. 
With  the  exception  indeed  of  the  incidental  references  made 
by  successive  chroniclers,  who  borrowed  from  his  history, 
there  is  nothing  to  be  learned  of  him  from  extrinsic  sources 
till  the  time  of  Leland,  who  indignantly  observes,  that  even 
at  Malmesbury,  in  his  own  monastery,  they  had  nearly  lost 
all  remembrance  of  their  brightest  ornament. 

To  himself  then  we  are  indebted  for  the  knowledge  of  his 
being  descended  from  both  English  and  Norman  parents  ;  his 
father  having  probably  come  hither  at  the  conquest.  The 
exact  time  of  his  birth  cannot  be  ascertained  ;  though  per- 
haps an  approximation  to  it  may  be  made.  In  the  "  Com- 
mentary on  Jeremiah,"*  Malmesbury  observes,  that  he  "  had 
long  since,  in  his  youthful  days,  amused  himself  with  writing 
history,  that  he  was  now  forty  years  of  age ;"  and,  in  another 
place,  he  mentions  a  circumstance  which  occurred  "  in  the 

*  "  Olim  enim  cum  historias  lusi,  viridioribus  annis  rerumque  laetitia 
congruebat  rerum  jocunditas.  Nunc  setas  progressior,  et  fortuna  deterior, 
aliud  dicendi  genus  expostulant.  Quadragenarius  sum  hodie"  &c.  Prol. 
in  expos.  Thren.  Hierem.  MS.  Bodl.  868. 


time  of  king  Henry  ;"*  apparently  implying  that  Henry  was 
then  dead.  Now,  admitting  the  expression  of  "  long  since" 
to  denote  a  period  often  years,  this,  as  his  "Histories  of  the 
Kings"  and  "  of  the  Prelates"  were  completed  in  the  year 
11 25,  must  have  been  written  about  1 135,  the  time  of  Henry's 
death,  and  would  of  course  place  his  own  birth  about  1095 
or  1096.t 

The  next  circumstance  to  be  noticed  is,  that  when  a  boy, 
he  was  placed  in  the  monastery  whence  he  derived  his  name, 
where  in  due  time  he  became  librarian,  and,  according  to 
Leland,  precentor  ;  and  ultimately  refused  the  dignity  of 
abbat.  His  death  is  generally  supposed  to  have  taken  place 
about  1143;  though  it  is  probable  that  he  survived  this 
period  some  time  :  for  his  "  INIodern  History"  terminates  at 
the  end  of  the  year  1142  ;  and  it  T\all  appear,  from  a  manu- 
script hereafter  to  be  described,  that  he  lived  at  least  long 
enough  after  its  publication  to  make  many  corrections,  altera- 
tions, and  insertions,  in  that  work  as  well  in  the  other  por- 
tions of  his  History. 

With  these  facts,  meagre  as  they  are,  the  personal  account 
of  him  must  close.  But  vnih  regard  to  his  literary  bent 
and  attainments  there  is  ample  store  of  information  in  his 
writings.  From  his  earliest  youth  he  gave  his  soul  to  study, 
and  to  the  collecting  of  books  4  and  he  visited  many  of  the 
most  celebrated  monasteries  in  the  kingdom,  apparently  in 
prosecution  of  this  darling  propensity.  The  ardour  of  his 
curiosity,  and  the  unceasing  diligence  of  his  researches,  in 
this  respect,  have  perhaps  been  seldom  surpassed.  He  seems 
to  have  procured  every  volume  within  his  reach  ;  and  to 
have  carefully  examined  and  digested  its  contents,  whether 

*  "  Ista  autem  avis  (struthio)  membrorum  grandium,  pennas  quidem 
habens,  sed  volatu  carens.  Qualem  in  Anglia  Aidimus,  tempore  regis 
Henrici  externonim  monstrorum  appetentissimi."  Ch.  iv.  v.  31. 

"j~  He  has  afforded  another  notice  of  time,  but  not  equally  precise. 
Godfrey  is  said  to  have  been  abbat  of  Malmesbury  from  the  year  1084  till 
1105  ;  and  Malmesbury  mentions  certain  transactions  which  took  place  in 
Godfrey's  time  as  beyond  his  memory;  and  others  which  happened  when 
he  was  a  boy.  Anglia  Sacra,  II.  45 — 7.  If  Malmesbury  wrote  the  mira- 
cles of  St.  Andrew,  a  work  which  is  attributed  to  him,  he  was  bom  the  30th 
of  November. 

X  He  says  he  also  collected  many  books  for  the  monastic  library :  and 
mentions  others  which  he  had  seen  at  Canterbury,  Bury  St.  Edmunds,  &cs. 
Gale,  torn.  iii.  pp.  376,  298. 


divinity,  history,  biography,  poetry,  or  classical  literature.  Of 
his  acquirements  as  a  scholar  it  is  indeed  difficult  to  speak  in 
terms  of  sufficient  commendation.  That  he  had  accurately 
studied  nearly  all  the  Roman  authors,  will  be  readily 
allowed  by  the  classical  reader  of  his  works.  From  these  he 
either  quotes  or  inserts  so  appositely,  as  to  show  how 
thoroughly  he  had  imbibed  their  sense  and  spirit.  His  adapta- 
tions are  ever  ready  and  appropriate ;  they  incorporate  with 
his  narrative  with  such  exactness  that  they  appear  only  to 
occupy  their  legitimate  place.  His  knowledge  of  Greek  is 
not  equally  apparent  ;  at  least  his  references  to  the  writers 
of  Greece  are  not  so  frequent,  and  even  these  might  proba- 
bly be  obtained  from  translations  :  from  this,  however,  no 
conclusion  can  be  drawn  that  he  did  not  understand  the  lan- 
guage. With  respect  to  writers  subsequent  to  those  deemed 
classics,  his  range  was  so  extensive  that  it  is  no  easy  matter 
to  point  out  many  books  which  he  had  not  seen,  and  cer- 
tainly he  had  perused  several  which  we  do  not  now  possess. 

Malmesbury's  love  of  learning  was  constitutional :  he  de- 
clares in  one  of  his  prefaces,  that  had  he  turned  to  any  other 
than  literary  pursuits,  he  should  have  deemed  it  not  only 
disgraceful,  but  even  detrimental  to  his  better  interest. 
Again,  his  commendations  of  Bede  show  how  much  he  vene- 
rated a  man  of  congenial  inclinations  and  studies  ;  and  how 
anxious  he  was  to  form  himself  on  the  same  model  of  accu- 
rate investigation  and  laborious  research,  and  to  snatch  every 
possible  interval  from  the  performance  of  his  monastic  duties, 
for  the  purposes  of  information  and  improvement. 

His  industry  and  application  were  truly  extraordinary. 
Even  to  the  moment  when  we  reluctantly  lose  sight  of  him, 
he  is  discovered  unceasingly  occupied  in  the  correction  of 
his  works.*     In  the  MSS.  of  the  "History  of  the  Kings" 

*  Some  notion  of  his  diligence  may  perhaps  be  afforded  by  the  following 
list  of  his  writings. 

1.  De  Gestis  Begum.  The  History  of  the  Kings  of  England.  The  first 
three  books  were  probably  written  soon  after  the  year  1120.  Malmesbury 
intimates  that  he  then  hesitated  for  a  time  on  the  expediency  of  continuing 
his  history  ;  but  at  length  having  determined  on  prosecuting  his  design,  he 
dedicated  the  fourth  and  fifth  books  to  Robert  earl  of  Gloucester  ;  at  whose 
request  he  afterwards  composed 

2.  Historice  Novellce.  The  Modern  History.  This  appears  to  have  been 
bcgim  after  the  death  of  Henry  I ;  probably  not  long  before  1140. 

translator's  preface.  ix 

may  be  found  traces  of  at  least  four  several  editions  ;  and 
the  "  History  of  the  Prelates "  supplies  nearly  as  many 
varieties.     And  though  it  may  reasonably  be  imagined  that 

3.  De  Gestis  Pontificum.  The  History  of  the  Prelates  of  England  con- 
taining, in  four  books,  an  account  of  the  bishops,  and  of  the  principal 
monasteries,  from  the  conversion  of  the  English,  by  St.  Augustine,  to 
1123  ;  to  which  he  added  a  fifth 

4.  De  Vita  Aldhelmi.  The  Life  of  St.  Aldhelm  :  which  was  completed  in 
1125.  It  is  very  reasonably  conjectured  that  this  last  was  published  sepa- 
rately and  some  time  after  the  others ;  as,  though  there  are  many  ancient 
AISS.  of  the  first  four  books,  one  copy  only  has  yet  been  discovered  with  the 
fifth.  The  former  were  published  by  Saville,  but  from  very  faulty  and  scanty 
MSS.     The  latter  by  H.  Wharton,  and  by  Gale  ;  but  also  very  defectively. 

5.  De  Vita  S.  Dunstani.  The  Life  of  S.  Dunstan,  in  two  books.  MS. 
Bodley  Rawlinson,  263.  This  was  WTitten  at  the  request  of  the  monks  of 
Glastonbury,  for  whom  he  had  pre\iou8ly  composed  the  following  three  : 

6.  Vita  S.  Patricii.  The  Life  of  S.  Patrick,  in  two  books.  Leland, 
Collectanea,  3,  272,  has  extracts  from  it,  but  no  MS.  has  hitherto 

7.  Mlracula  S.  Benigni.  The  Miracles  of  S.  Benignus.  This  has  not 

8.  Passio  S.  Indracti.  The  Martyrdom  of  S.  Indract.  MS.  Bodley 
Digby,  112.  This  he  translated  and  abridged  from  the  Anglo-Saxon. 
Abbreviated  in  Capgrave's  Legenda  Nova. 

9.  De  Antiquitate  Glastonienais  Ecdesice.  The  History  of  Glastonbury. 
It  is  addressed  to  Henry  bishop  of  Winchester,  and  was  of  course  written 
after  1129.  Printed  in  Gale's  Collection,  t.  3,  and  by  Hearne,  from  an 
interpolated  MS. 

10.  Vita  S.  Wulstani  Episcopi  Wigorniensis.  The  Life  of  S.  Wulstan, 
Bishop  of  Worcester.  A  Translation  from  the  Anglo-Saxon,  addressed  to 
Prior  Guarin,  between  1124  and  1140.  The  greater  part  of  it  has  been 
printed.     Anglia  Sacra,  t.  2. 

11.  Chronica.  Chronicles,  in  three  books.  See  p.  480.  This  work  is 
probably  lost. 

12.  Miracula  S.  Elfgifce.  The  Miracles  of  Elfgifa,  in  metre.  A 
specimen  of  these  rhymes,  there  printed  as  prose,  may  be  seen  in  the 
De  Gestis  Pontif.  f.  143  :  they  were  apparently  written  while  he  was  very 
young  ;  as,  before  1125,  he  says,  ^^  quondam  cecini." 

13.  Itinerarium  Joannis  Abbatis  Meldunensis  versus  Romam.  The 
Itinerary  of  John  Abbat  of  Malmesbury  to  Rome.  This  was  drawn  up, 
after  1140,  from  the  relation  of  another  monk  of  that  foundation  who 
accompanied  the  abbat.  Leland,  Collect.  3,  272,  ed.  1774,  mentions  it  as 
being  very  curious.  It  does  not  occiu",  but  it  was  formerly  in  the  possession 
of  Bale. 

14.  Expositio  Threnorum  Hieremice,  A  Commentary  on  the  Lamenta- 
tions of  Jeremiah.  MS.  Bodley,  868.  Abridged  from  Paschasius 
Radbert,  probably  about  1 1 36. 

15.  De  Miraculis  Divce  Marim  lihri  qnatuor  Gul.  Cantoris  Malmsburie. 
The  Miracles  of  the  Blessed  Virgin,  in  foiu:  books. 

X  translator's  preface. 

a  great  portion  of  the  alterations  are  merely  verbal,  and  of 
course  imperceptible  in  a  translation,  jet  they  contribute  in  an 
extraordinary  degree  to  the  polish  and  elegance  of  his  style.* 
Another  excellent  feature  of  Malmesbury's  literary  character 
is,  his  love  of  truth.  He  repeatedly  declares  that,  in  the 
remoter  periods  of  his  work,  he  had  observed  the  most 
guarded  caution  in  throwing  all  responsibility,  for  the 
facts  he  mentions,  on  the  authors  from  whom  he  derived 
them  ;  and  in  his  own  times  he  avers,  that  he  has  recorded 
nothing  that  he  had  not  either  personally  witnessed,  or 
learned  from  the  most  credible  authority.  Adhering  closely 
to  this  principle,  he  seems  to  have  been  fully  impressed  with 
the  difficulty  of  relating  the  transactions  of  the  princes,  his 
contemporaries,  and  on  this  account  he  repeatedly  apologizes 
for  his  omissions.  But  here  is  seen  his  dexterous  management 
in  maintaining  an  equipoise  between  their  virtues  and  vices  ; 
for  he  spares  neither  William  the  First,  nor  his  sons  who 
succeeded  him  :  indeed  several  of  liis  strictures  in  the  earlier 
editions  of  this  work,  are  so  severe,  that  he  afterwards  found 
it  necessary  to  modify  and  soften  them. 

His  character  and  attainments  had  early  acquired  a  high 
degree  of  reputation  among  his  contemporaries.  He  was 
entreated  by  the  monks  of  various  monasteries  to  write  either 
the  history  of  their  foundations,  or  the  lives  of  their  patron 
saints.  He  associated  with  persons  of  the  highest  consequence 

16.  De  Serie  Evangelistarum,  Carmine.  The  Order  of  the  Evangelists, 
in  verse,  Leland,  Collect.  4.  157.     These  two  have  not  occurred. 

17.  De  Miraculis  B.  Andrece.  The  Mu-acles  of  S.  Andrew.  MS. 
Cotton.  Nero,  E.  1.     Abridged  from  a  very  prolix  work. 

18.  Abbreviaiio  Amalarii  de  Ecclesiasticis  Officiis.  Amalarius  on 
Ecclesiastical  Offices,  abridged.     MS.  Lambeth.  380. 

19.  Epitome  Historice  Aimonis  Floriacensis.  The  History  of  Haimo  of 
Flory,  abridged.     MS.  Bodley,  Selden.  Arch.  B.  32. 

Several  other  works  are  attributed  to  him  by  Tanner,  on  the  authority 
of  Bale  and  Pits. 

*  These  remarks  on  the  character  and  style  of  our  author  must  be 
received,  as  they  say,  cum  grano  sails.  They  more  justly  evince  the  zeal 
of  Mr.  Sharpe  than  the  merits  of  Malmesbury's  composition.  The  classical 
reader  Avill  probably  lament  with  me  that  our  early  historians  should  have 
used  a  style  so  cumbersome  and  uninviting.  To  this  general  censure 
Malmesbury  is  certainly  no  exception.  His  Latinity  is  rude  and  repulsive, 
and  the  true  value  of  his  m-itings  arises  from  the  fidelity  with  which  he  has 
recorded  facts,  which  he  had  either  himself  witnessed  or  had  obtamed  from 


and  authority  ;  and  in  one  instance,  at  least,  lie  took  a  share 
in  the  important  political  transactions  of  his  own  times. 
Robert  earl  of  Gloucester,  the  natural  son  of  Henry  the 
First,  was  the  acknowledged  friend  and  patron  of  Malmes- 
bury.  This  distinguished  nobleman,  who  was  himself  a 
profound  scholar,  seems  to  have  been  the  chief  promoter 
of  learning  at  that  period.  Several  portions  of  our  author's 
work  are  dedicated  to  him,  not  merely  through  motives  of 
personal  regard,  but  from  the  conviction  that  his  attainments 
as  a  scholar  would  lead  him  to  appreciate  its  value  as  a  com- 
position, and  the  part  wliich  he  bore  in  the  transactions 
of  his  day,  enable  him  to  decide  on  the  veracity  of  its 

Having  thus  stated  the  leading  features  of  IMalmesbury^s 
life,  his  avocations  and  attainments,  it  may  not  be  irrelevant 
to  consider  the  form  and  manner  which  he  has  adopted  in 
the  history  before  us.  A  desire  to  be  acquainted  with  the 
transactions  of  their  ancestors  seems  natural  to  men  in  every 
stage  of  society,  however  rude  or  barbarous.  The  northern 
nations,  more  especially,  had  their  historical  traditions,  and 
the  songs  of  their  bards,  from  the  remotest  times.  Influenced 
by  this  feeling,  the  Anglo-Saxons  turned  their  attention  to 
the  composition  of  annals  very  early  after  their  settlement  in 
Britain  ;  and  hence  originated  that  invaluable  register  the 
Saxon  Chronicle,*  in  which  facts  are  briefly  related  as 
they  arose  ; — in  chronological  order,  indeed,  but  without 
comment  or  observation.  After  the  Norman  conquest, 
among  other  objects  of  studious  research  in  England,  history 
attracted  considerable  attention,  and  the  form,  as  well  as  the 
matter,  of  the  Saxon  Chronicle,  became  the  prevailing 
standard.  It  might  readily  be  supposed  that  Mahnesbury's 
genius  and  attainments  would  with  difiiculty  submit  to  the 
shackles  of  a  mere  chronological  series,  which  afforded  no 
field  for  the  exercise  of  genius  or  judgment.  Accordingly, 
foUoAving  the  bent  of  his  inclination,  he  struck  into  a  different 
and  freer  path  ;  and  to  a  judicious  selection  of  facts  gave  the 
added  charm  of  wisdom  and  experience.  It  may  therefore 
be  useful  to  advert  to  the  exemplification  of  this  principle  in 
the  scope  and  design  of  the  work  immediately  before  us.  Hia 

*  This  valuable  work  has  been  published,  together  with  Bede's  Eccle- 
siastical History,  in  a  preceding  volume  of  this  series. 


first  book  comprises  the  exploits  of  tlie  Anglo-Saxons,  from 
the  period  of  their  arrival  till  the  consolidation  of  the  empire 
under  the  monarchy  of  Egbert.  Herein  too  is  separately 
given  the  history  of  those  powerful  but  rival  kingdoms, 
which  alternately  subjugated,  or  bowed  down  to  the 
dominion  of,  each  other,  and  deluged  the  country  with 
blood,  as  the  love  of  conquest  or  the  lust  of  ambition 
prompted.  The  second  portion  of  the  work  continues  the 
regal  series  till  the  mighty  revolution  of  the  Norman 
conquest.  The  three  remaining  books  are  occupied  with 
the  reigns  of  William  and  his  sons,  including  a  very 
interesting  account  of  the  first  Crusade.  His  Modern 
History  carries  the  narrative  into  the  turbulent  reign 
of  Stephen. 

Such  is  the  period  embraced:  and  to  show  these  times, 
"  their  form  and  pressure,"  Malmesbury  collected  every 
thing  within  his  reach.  His  materials,  as  he  often  feelingly 
laments,  were  scanty  and  confined,  more  especially  in  the 
earlier  annals.  The  Chronicles  of  that  era  afibrded  him  but 
little,  yet  of  that  little  he  has  made  the  most,  through  the 
dihgence  of  his  research  and  the  soundness  of  his  judgment. 
His  discrimination  in  selecting,  and  his  skill  in  arranging, 
are  equally  conspicuous.  His  inexhaustible  patience,  his 
learning,  his  desire  to  perpetuate  every  tiling  interesting  or 
useful,  are  at  all  times  evident.  Sensibly  alive  to  the  de- 
ficiencies of  the  historians  who  preceded  him,  he  constantly 
endeavours  to  give  a  clear  and  connected  relation  of  every 
event.  Indeed,  nothing  escaped  his  observation  which  could 
tend  to  elucidate  the  manners  of  the  times  in  which  he  wrote. 
History  was  the  darling  pursuit  of  Malmesbury,  and  more 
especially  biographical  history,  as  being,  perhaps,  the  most 
pleasing  mode  of  conveying  information.  He  knew  the  pre- 
vailing passion  of  mankind  for  anecdote,  and  was  a  skilful 
master  in  blending  amusement  with  instruction.  Few  his- 
torians ever  possessed  such  power  of  keeping  alive  the 
reader's  attention;  few  so  ably  managed  their  materials,  or 
scattered  so  many  flowers  by  the  way.  Of  his  apt  dehnea- 
tion  of  character,  and  happy  mode  of  seizing  the  most  promi- 
nent features  of  his  personages,  it  is  difiicult  to  speak  in 
terms  of  adequate  c'ommendation.  He  does  not  weary  with 
a  tedious  detail,  "  line  upon  line,"  nor  does  he  complete  his 


portrait  at  a  sitting.  On  the  contrary,  tlie  traits  are  scat- 
tered, the  proportions  disunited,  the  body  dismembered,  as  it 
were ;  but  in  a  moment  some  master-stroke  is  applied,  some 
vivid  flash  of  Promethean  fire  animates  the  canvass,  and  the 
perfect  figure  darts  into  life  and  expression :  hence  we  have 
the  surly,  ferocious  snarl  of  the  Conqueror,  and  the  brutal 
horse-laugh  of  Rufus.  Malmesbury's  history,  indeed,  may 
be  called  a  kind  of  biographical  drama ;  where,  by  a  skilful 
gradation  of  character  and  variety  of  personage,  the  story  is 
presented  entire,  though  the  tediousness  of  continued  narra- 
tive is  avoided.  Again,  by  saying  little  on  uninteresting 
topics,  and  dilating  on  such  as  are  important,  the  tale,  which 
might  else  disgust  from  the  supineness  or  degeneracy  of  some 
principal  actor,  is  artfully  relieved  by  the  force  of  contrast : 
and  the  mind,  which  perhaps  recoils  with  indignation  from 
the  stupid  indifference  of  an  Ethelred,  hangs,  with  fond  de- 
light, on  the  enterprising  spirit  and  exertion  of  an  Ironside. 

It  may  be  superfluous,  perhaps,  after  enumerating  qualities 
of  this  varied  kind,  in  an  author,  who  gives  a  connected  his- 
tory of  England  for  several  centuries,  to  observe,  that  readers 
of  every  description  must  derive  instruction  and  delight  from 
his  labours.  Historians,  antiquaries,  or  philosophers,  may 
drink  deeply  of  the  stream  which  pervades  his  work,  and 
find  their  thirst  for  information  gratified.  The  diligent 
investigator  of  the  earlier  annals  of  his  own  country,  finds  a 
period  of  seven  hundred  years  submitted  to  his  inspection, 
and  this  not  merely  in  a  dry  detail  of  events,  but  in  a  series 
of  authentic  historical  facts,  determined  with  acuteness,  com- 
mented on  with  deliberation,  and  relieved  by  pleasing  anec- 
dote or  interesting  episode.  When  the  narrative  flags  at 
home,  the  attention  is  roused  by  events  transacting  abroad, 
while  foreign  is  so  blended  with  domestic  history,  that  the 
book  is  never  closed  in  disgust.  The  antiquary  here  finds 
ample  field  for  amusement  and  instruction  in  the  various 
notices  of  arts,  manners,-  and  customs,  which  occur.  The 
philosopher  traces  the  gradual  progress  of  man  towards  civil- 
ization ;  watches  his  mental  improvement,  his  advance  from 
barbarism  to  comparative  refinement ;  and  not  of  man  alone, 
but  of  government,  laws,  and  arts,  as  well  as  of  all  those 
attainments  which  serve  to  exalt  and  embellish  human  na- 
ture.    These  are  topics  carefully,  though  perhaps  only  inci- 


dentally,  brought  forward;  but  tbey  are  points  essentially 
requisite  in  every  legitimate  historian.  Here,  however,  it 
must  be  admitted,  that  in  the  volume  before  us,  a  consider- 
able portion  of  the  marvellous  prevails ;  and  though,  perhaps, 
by  many  readers,  these  will  be  considered  as  among  the  most 
curious  parts  of  the  work,  yet  it  may  be  objected,  that  the 
numerous  miraculous  tales  detract,  in  some  measure,  from 
that  soundness  of  judgment  which  has  been  ascribed  to  our 
author.  But  it  should  be  carefully  recollected,  that  it  became 
necessary  to  conform,  in  some  degree,  to  the  general  taste  of 
the  readers  of  those  days,  the  bulk  of  whom  derived  their 
principal  amusement  from  the  lives  of  saints,  and  from  their 
miracles,  in  which  they  piously  believed:  besides,  no  one 
ever  thought  of  impeaching  the  judgment  of  Livy,  or  of  any 
other  historian  of  credit,  for  insertions  of  a  similar  nature. 
Even  in  these  relations,  however,  Malmesbury  is  careful  that 
his  own  veracity  shall  not  be  impeached ;  constantly  observ- 
ing, that  the  truth  of  the  story  must  rest  on  the  credit  of  his 
authors;  and,  indeed,  they  are  always  so  completely  sepa- 
rable from  the  main  narrative,  that  there  is  no  danger  of 
mistaking  the  legend  for  history. 

Having  thus  noticed  the  multifarious  topics  embraced  by 
Malmesbury,  it  may  be  necessary  to  advert  to  his  style: 
although,  after  what  has  been  premised,  it  might  seem  almost 
superfluous  to  add,  that  it  admits  nearly  of  as  much  variety 
as  his  facts.  This  probably  arises  from  that  undeviating 
principle  which  he  appears  to  have  laid  down,  that  his  chief 
efforts  should  be  exerted  to  give  pleasure  to  his  readers ;  in 
imitation  of  the  rhetoricians,  whose  first  object  was  to  make 
their  audience  kindly  disposed,  next  attentive,  and  finally 
anxious  to  receive  instruction.*  Of  his  style,  therefore, 
generally  speaking,  it  may  not  be  easy  to  give  a  perfect 
description.  To  say  to  which  Roman  author  it  bears  the 
nearest  resemblance,  when  he  imitated  almost  every  one  of 
them,  from  Sallust  to  Eutropius,  would  be  rash  indeed. 
How  shall  we  bind  this  classical  Proteus,  who  occasionally 
assumes  the  semblance  of  Persius,  Juvenal,  Horace,  Lucan, 
Virgil,  Lucretius ;  and  who  never  appears  in  his  proper 
shape  so  long  as  he  can  seize  the  form  of  an  ancient  classic  ?| 

*  See  his  prologue  to  the  Life  of  Wulstan,  Anglia  Sacra,  ii.  243. 
+  Some  of  these  allusions  are  occasionally  marked  in  the  notes. 


Often  does  he  declare  that  he  purposely  varies  his  diction, 
lest  the  reader  should  be  disgusted  by  its  sameness;  anx- 
iously careful  to  avoid  repetition,  even  in  the  structure  of  his 
phrases.  It  may  be  said,  however,  that  generally,  in  his 
earlier  works,  (for  he  was  apparently  very  young  when  he 
wrote  his  History  of  the  Kings,)  his  style  is  rather  laboured ; 
though,  perhaps,  even  this  may  have  originated  in  an  anxiety 
that  his  descriptions  should  be  full ;  or,  to  use  his  own  ex- 
pression, that  posterity  should  be  wholly  and  perfectly  in- 
formed. That  his  diction  is  liighly  antithetical,  and  his 
sentences  artfully  poised,  will  be  readily  allowed;  and  per- 
haps the  best  index  to  his  meaning,  where  he  may  be  occa- 
sionally obscure,  is  the  nicely-adjusted  balance  of  his  phrase. 
That  he  gradually  improved  his  style,  and  in  riper  years, 
where  he  describes  the  transactions  of  his  own  times,  became 
terse,  elegant,  and  polished,  no  one  will  attempt  to  dispute ; 
and  it  will  be  regretted,  that  this  interesting  portion  of  his- 
tory should  break  off  abruptly  in  the  midst  of  the  contest 
between  the  empress  Maud  and  Stephen. 

In  this  recapitulation  perhaps  enough  has  been  said  to 
make  an  attempt  at  translating  such  an  author  regarded  with 
kindness  and  complacency.  To  prevent  a  work  of  such  ac- 
knowledged interest  and  fidelity  from  remaining  longer  a 
sealed  book  to  the  English  reader,  may  well  justify  an  under- 
taking of  this  kind ;  and  it  should  be  remarked  that  a  trans- 
lation of  Malmesbury  may  serve  to  diffuse  a  very  different 
idea  of  the  state  of  manners  and  learning  in  his  days  from 
that  wliich  has  been  too  commonly  entertained ;  and  at  the 
same  time  to  rescue  a  set  of  very  deserving  men  from  the 
unjust  obloquy  with  which  they  have  been  pursued  for  ages. 
For  without  the  least  design  of  vindicating  the  institutions 
of  monachism  or  overlooking  the  abuses  incident  to  it,  we 
may  assert  that,  in  Malmesbury's  time,  rehgious  houses  were 
the  grand  depositaries  of  knowledge,  and  monks  the  best 
informed  men  of  the  age. 

It  remains  briefly  to  speak  of  the  mode  in  which  the  trans- 
lation has  been  conducted.     The  printed  text  of  Malmesbury  * 

*  A  considerable  portion  of  the  present  work  was  printed  anon}Tnously 
as  a  continuation  of  Bede,  at  Heidelberg,  in  1587.  The  whole,  together 
with  the  History  of  the  Prelates,  was  first  pruited  by  Sir  Henry  Savill*^, 
who  appears  to  have  consulted   several  copies  in  the   "Scriptores  pest 


was  found  so  frequently  faulty  and  corrupted  that,  on  a  careful 
perusal,  it  was  deemed  necessary  to  seek  for  authentic  manu- 
scripts. These  were  supplied  by  that  noble  institution,  the 
British  Museum;  but  one  more  especially,  which,  on  an 
exact  comparison  with  others,  was  found  to  possess  indisput- 
able proofs  of  the  author's  latest  corrections.  This,  Bib. 
E,eg.  13,  D.  II,  has  been  collated  throughout  with  the 
printed  copy ;  the  result  has  produced  numerous  important 
corrections,  alterations,  and  insertions,  which  are  constantly 
referred  to  in  the  notes.  In  addition  to  this,  various  other 
MSS.  have  been  repeatedly  consulted;  so  that  it  is  presumed 
the  text,  from  which  the  translation  has  been  made,  is,  by 
these  means,  completely  established. 

As  the  plan  pursued  by  Malmesbury  did  not  often  require 
him  to  affix  dates  to  the  several  transactions,  it  has  been 
deemed  necessary  to  remedy  this  omission.  The  chronology 
here  supplied  has  been  constructed  on  a  careful  examination 
and  comparison  of  the  Saxon  Chronicle  and  Florence  of 
Worcester,  which  are  considered  the  best  authorities; 
although  even  these  occasionally  leave  considerable  doubt 
as  to  the  precise  time  of  certain  events.  The  remoteness 
of  the  period  described  by  Malmesbury  makes  notes  also  in 
some  measure  indispensable.  These  are  derived  as  frequently 
as  possible  from  contemporary  authors.  Their  object  is 
briefly  to  amend,  to  explain,  and  to  illustrate.  By  some  per- 
haps they  may  be  thought  too  limited ;  by  others  they  may 
occasionally  be  considered  unnecessary ;  but  they  are  such  as 
were  deemed  likely  to  be  acceptable  to  readers  in  general. 

With  these  explanations  the  translator  takes  leave  of  the 
reader,  and  is  induced  to  hope  that  the  present  work  will 
not  be  deemed  an  unimportant  accession  to  the  stock  of 
English  literature. 

Bedam,"  London,  1596,  fol.  This  was  reprinted,  but  with  many  additional 
errors,  at  Frankfort,  1601,  fol.  Saville's  division  into  chapters,  in  the  second 
book  more  especially,  has  no  authority  ;  but  as  it  appeared  sufficiently  con- 
venient, it  has  been  adopted  :  the  division  of  the  sections  is  nearly  the  same 
throughout  all  the  MSS. 





To  my  respected  Lord,  the  renowned  Earl  Robert,  son  of 
the  King,  health,  and,  as  far  as  he  is  able,  his  prayers, 
from  William,  Monk  of  Malmesbury. 

The  virtue  of  celebrated  men  holds  forth  as  its  greatest 
excellence,  its  tendency  to  excite  the  love  of  persons  even  far 
removed  from  it :  hence  the  lower  classes  make  the  virtues  of 
their  superiors  their  own,  by  venerating  those  great  actions, 
to  the  practice  of  which  they  cannot  themselves  aspire. 
Moreover,  it  redounds  altogether  to  the  glory  of  exalted 
characters,  both  that  they  do  good,  and  tliat  they  gain  the 
affection  of  their  inferiors.  To  you.  Princes,  therefore,  it  is 
owing,  that  we  act  well  ;  to  you,  indeed,  that  we  compose 
anything  worthy  of  remembrance  ;  your  exertions  incite  us 
to  make  you  live  for  ever  in  our  writings,  in  return  for  the 
dangers  you  undergo  to  secure  our  tranquillity.  For  this 
reason,  I  have  deemed  it  proper  to  dedicate  the  History  of 
the  Kings  of  England,  which  I  have  lately  published,  more 
especially  to  you,   my  respected  and   truly   amiable   Lord. 

*  Robert,  Earl  of  Gloucester,  the  Mecaenas  of  his  age,  was  a  natural  son 
of  Henry  I.,  and  a  man  of  great  talents  and  of  unshaken  fidelity.  He 
married  Mabil,  daughter  of  Robert  Fitzhamon,  by  whom  he  had  a  numerous 
issue.     He  died  October  31,  a.d.  1147. 



2  THE  author's  epistle. 

None,  surely,  can  be  a  more  suitable  patron  of  the  liberal 
arts  than  yourself,  in  whom  are  combined  the  magnanimity 
of  your  grandfather,  the  munificence  of  your  uncle,  the  cir- 
cumspection of  your  father  ;  more  especially  as  you  add  to 
the  qualities  of  these  men,  whom  you  alike  equal  in  industry 
and  resemble  in  person,  this  peculiar  characteristic,  a  devo- 
tion to  learning.  Nor  is  this  all :  you  condescend  to  honour 
with  your  notice  those  literary  characters  who  are  kept  in 
obscurity,  either  by  the  malevolence  of  fame,  or  the  slender- 
ness  of  their  fortune.  And  as  our  nature  inclines  us,  not  to 
condemn  in  others  what  we  approve  in  ourselves,  therefore 
men  of  learning  find  in  you  manners  congenial  to  their  own  ; 
for,  without  the  slightest  indication  of  moroseness,  you  re- 
gard them  with  kindness,  admit  them  with  complacency,  and 
dismiss  them  with  regret.  Indeed,  the  greatness  of  your 
fortune  has  made  no  difierence  in  you,  except  that  your 
beneficence  can  now  almost  keep  pace  with  your  inclination. 
Accept,  then,  most  illustrious  Sir,  a  work  in  wliich  you 
may  contemplate  yourself  as  in  a  glass,  where  your  High- 
ness's  sagacity  will  discover  that  you  have  imitated  the 
actions  of  the  most  exalted  characters,  even  before  you  could 
have  heard  their  names.  The  Preface  to  the  first  book  de- 
clares the  contents  of  this  work  ;  on  deigning  to  peruse 
which,  you  will  briefly  collect  the  whole  subject-matter. 
Thus  much  I  must  request  from  your  Excellency,  that  no 
blame  may  attach  to  me  because  my  narrative  often  wanders 
wide  from  the  limits  of  our  own  country,  since  I  design  this 
as  a  compendium  of  many  histories,  although,  with  a  view  to 
the  larger  portion  of  it,  I  have  entitled  it  a  History  of  the 
Kings  of  England. 


The  history  of  the  English,  from  their  arrival  in  Britain  to 
his  own  times,  has  been  written  by  Bede,  a  man  of  singular 
learning  and  modesty,  in  a  clear  and  captivating  style. 
After  him  you  wiU  not,  in  my  opinion,  easily  find  any  person 
who  has  attempted  to  compose  in  Latin  the  history  of  this 
people.  Let  others  declare  whether  their  researches  in  this 
respect  have  been,  or  are  likely  to  be,  more  fortunate  ;  my 
own  labour,  though  diligent  in  the  extreme,  has,  down  to  this 
period,  been  without  its  reward.  There,  are,  indeed,  some 
notices  of  antiquity,  written  in  the  vernacular  tongue  after 
the  manner  of  a  chronicle,*  and  arranged  according  to  the 
years  of  our  Lord.  By  means  of  these  alone,  the  times  suc- 
ceeding this  man  have  been  rescued  from  obUvion  :  for  of 
Elward,f  a  noble  and  illustrious  man,  who  attempted  to 
arrange  these  chronicles  in  Latin,  and  whose  intention  I 
could  applaud  if  his  language  did  not  disgust  me,  it  is 
better  to  be  silent.  Nor  has  it  escaped  my  knowledge,  that 
there  is  also  a  work  of  my  Lord  Eadmer,J  written  with  a 
chastened  elegance  of  style,  in  which,  beginning  from  King 
Edgar,  he  has  but  hastily  glanced  at  the  times  down  to 
William  the  First  :  and  thence,  taking  a  freer  range,  gives  a 
narrative,  copious,  and  of  great  utiHty  to  the  studious,  until 
the  death  of  Archbishop  Kalph.§  Thus  from  the  time  of 
Bede  there  is  a  period  of  two  hundred  and  twenty-three  years 
left  unnoticed  in  his  history  ;  so  that  the  regular  series  of 
time,  unsupported  by  a  connected  relation,  halts  in  the  middle. 
This  circumstance  has  induced  me,  as  well  out  of  love  to  my 

*  This  alludes  to  those  invaluable  records,  the  Saxon  Chronicles.  These, 
as  originally  compiled,  have  been  already  published  in  the  present  Series  of 
Monkish  Historians. 

t  Elward,  or  Ethelwerd,  was  a  noble  Saxon,  great-great-grandson  of 
King  Ethelred,  brother  of  Alfred.  He  abridged  and  translated  the  Saxon 
Chronicle  into  Latin,  published  in  the  present  Series.  He  lived  apparentlr 
in  the  time  of  Edgar,  towards  the  close  of  the  tenth  century. 

X  Eadmer,  a  monk  and  precentor  of  Christ-Church,  Canterbury,  and  pupil 
of  Archbishop  Anselm,  together  with  a  variety  of  other  works,  wrote  "  Hib- 
toria  Novorum,"  or,  a  history  of  modern  times,  from  a.d.  1066  to  1122. 

$  MS.  Anselmi.  Eadmer  at  first  brought  down  his  history  to  the  death 
of  Archbishop  Anselm  only,  a.d.  1109,  but  altei  wards  continued  it  to  the 
decease  of  Ralph,  a.d.  1122. 

B    2 


country,  as  respect  for  the  authority  of  those  who  have  en- 
joined on  me  the  undertaking,  to  fill  up  the  chasm,  and  to 
season  the  crude  materials  with  Roman  art.  And  that  the 
work  may  proceed  with  greater  regularity,  I  shall  cull  some- 
what from  Bede,  whom  I  must  often  quote,  glancing  at  a  few 
facts,  but  omitting  more. 

The  First  Book,  therefore,  contains  a  succinct  account  of 
the  English,  from  the  time  of  their  descent  on  Britain,  till 
that  of  King  Egbert,  who,  after  the  different  Princes  had  fallen 
by  various  ways,  gained  the  monarchy  of  almost  the  whole 

But  as  among  the  English  arose  four  powerful  kingdoms, 
that  is  to  say,  of  Kent,  of  the  West  Saxons,  of  the  Northum- 
brians, and  of  the  Mercians,  of  which  I  purpose  severally  to 
treat  if  I  have  leisure  ;  I  shall  begin  with  that  which  attained 
the  earliest  to  maturity,  and  was  also  the  first  to  decay. 
This  I  shall  do  more  clearly,  if  I  place  the  kingdoms  of  the 
East  Angles,  and  of  the  East  Saxons,  after  the  others,  as 
little  meriting  either  my  labours,  or  the  regard  of  posterity. 

The  Second  Book  will  contain  the  chronological  series  of 
the  Kings  to  the  coming  of  the  Normans. 

The  three  following  Books  will  be  employed  upon  the 
history  of  three  successive  kings,  with  the  addition  of  what- 
ever, in  their  times,  happened  elsewhere,  which,  from  its 
celebrity,  may  demand  a  more  particular  notice.  This,  then, 
is  what  I  purpose,  if  the  Divine  favour  shall  smile  on  my 
undertaking,  and  carry  me  safely  by  those  rocks  of  rugged 
diction,  on  which  Elward,  in  his  search  after  sounding  and  far- 
fetched phrases,  so  unhappily  sufi*ered  shipwreck.  "  Should 
any  one,  however,"  to  use  the  poet's  expression,*  "  peruse  this 
work  with  sensible  delight,"  I  deem  it  necessary  to  acquaint 
him,  that  I  vouch  nothing  for  the  truth  of  long  past  trans- 
actions, but  the  consonance  of  the  time  ;  the  veracity  of  the 
relation  must  rest  with  its  authors.  Wliatever  I  have  re- 
corded of  later  times,  I  have  either  myself  seen,  or  heard 
from  credible  authority.  However,  in  either  part,  I  pay  but 
little  respect  to  the  judgment  of  my  contemporaries  :  trust- 
ing that  I  shall  gain  with  posterity,  when  love  and  hatred 
shall  be  no  more,  if  not  a  reputation  for  eloquence,  at  least 
credit  for  diligence. 

*  Virgilii  Eel.  Vr.  V.  10. 


OF    THE 


BOOK   I. 

Of  the  arrival  of  the  Angles,  and  of  the  Kings  of  Kent.    [a.d.  449.] 

In  the  year  of  the  incarnation  of  our  Lord  449,  Angles  and 
Saxons  first  came  into  Britain  ;  and  although  the  cause  oi 
their  arrival  is  universally  known,  it  may  not  be  improper 
here  to  subjoin  it  :  and,  that  the  design  of  my  work  may  be 
the  more  manifest,  to  begin  even  from  an  earlier  period. 
That  Britain,  compelled  by  Julius  Ccesar  to  submit  to  the 
Koman  power,  was  held  in  high  estimation  by  that  people, 
may  be  collected  from  their  history,  and  be  seen  also  in  the 
ruins  of  their  ancient  buildings.  Even  their  emperors, 
sovereigns  of  almost  all  the  Avorld,  eagerly  embraced  oppor- 
tunities of  saihng  hither,  and  of  spending  their  days  here. 
Finally,  Severus  and  Constantius,  two  of  their  greatest 
princes,  died  upon  the  island,  and  were  there  interred  with 
the  utmost  pomp.  The  former,  to  defend  this  province  from 
the  incursions  of  the  barbarians,  built  his  celebrated  and 
well-known  wall  from  sea  to  sea.  The  latter,  a  man,  as  they 
report,  of  courteous  manners,  left  Constantine,  his  son  by 
Helena,  a  tender  of  cattle,*  a  youth  of  great  promise,  his 

*  Helena's  origin  has  been  much  contested  :  Gibbon  decides  that  she 
was  daughter  of  an  innkeeper.  The  word  "  Stabularia,"  literally  implies 
an  ostler- wench  ;  and  it  has  been  conjectured  that  it  was  applied  to  her,  by 
the  Jews  and  Gentiles,  on  account  of  her  building  a  church  on  the  spot 
where  stood  the  stable  in  which  our  Lord  was  born. 

6  T7ILLIAM   OF   MALMESBURT.  [b.  r.  c.  1. 

heir.  Constantine,  greeted  emperor  by  tlie  army,  led  away, 
in  an  expedition  destined  to  the  continent,  a  numerous  force 
of  British  soldiers  ;  by  whose  exertions,  the  war  succeeding 
to  his  wishes,  he  gained  in  a  short  time  the  summit  of  power. 
For  these  veterans,  when  their  toil  was  over,  he  founded  a 
colony  on  the  western  coast  of  Gaul,  where,  to  this  day,  their 
descendants,  somewhat  degenerate  in  language  and  manners 
from  our  own  Britons,  remain  with  wonderful  increase.* 

In  succeeding  times,  in  this  island,  Maximus,  a  man  well- 
fitted  for  command,  had  he  not  aspired  to  power  in  defiance  of 
his  oath,  assumed  the  purple,  as  though  compelled  by  the 
army,  and  preparing  immediately  to  pass  over  into  Gaul,  he 
despoiled  the  province  of  almost  all  its  military  force.  Not 
long  after  also,  one  Constantine,  who  had  been  elected  em- 
peror on  account  of  his  name,  drained  its  whole  remaining 
warlike  strength  ;  but  both  being  slain,  the  one  by  Theodo- 
sius,  the  other  by  Honorius,  they  became  examples  of  the 
instability  of  human  greatness.  Of  the  forces  which  had 
followed  them,  part  shared  the  fate  of  their  leaders  ;  the  rest, 
after  their  defeat,  fled  to  the  continental  Britons.  Thus 
when  the  tyrants  had  left  none  but  half-savages  in  the 
country,  and,  in  the  towns,  those  only  who  were  given  up  to 
luxury,  Britain,  despoiled  of  the  support  of  its  youthfulf 
population,  and  bereft  of  every  useful  art,  was  for  a  long  time 
exposed  to  the  ambition  of  neighbouring  nations. 

For  immediately,  by  an  excursion  of  the  Scots  and  Picts, 
numbers  of  the  people  were  slain,  villages  burnt,  J  towns  de- 
stroyed, and  everything  laid  waste  by  fire  and  sword.  Part 
of  the  harassed  islanders,  who  thought  anything  more  ad- 
visable than  contending  in  battle,  fled  for  safety  to  the  moun- 
tains ;  others,  burying  their  treasures  in  the  earth,  many  of 
which  are  dug  up  in  our  own  times,  proceeded  to  Rome  to  ask 
assistance.  The  Romans,  touched  with  pity,  and  deeming  it 
above  all  things  important  to  yield  succour  to  their  oppressed 
allies,  twice  lent  their  aid,  and  defeated  the  enemy.  But  at 
length,  wearied  with  the  distant  voyage,  they  declined  re- 
turning   in   future  ;    bidding   them  rather   themselves    not 

*  Various   periods  have   been  assigned  for  the   British   settlement   in 
Armorica,  or  Bretagne  ;  but  the  subject  is  still  involved  in  great  obscuritjV. 
t  Some  MSS.  read  juvenilis,  others  militaris. 
t  Some  MSS.  read  succensa. 

A.D.  447.]  REIGN   OF   VORTIGEKN.  7 

degenerate  from  the  martial  energy  of  their  ancestors,  but 
learn  to  defend  their  country  with  spirit,  and  with  arms. 
They  accompanied  their  advice  with  the  plan  of  a  wall,  to  be 
built  for  their  defence  ;  the  mode  of  keeping  watch  on  the 
ramparts  ;  of  sallying  out  against  the  enemy,  should  it  be 
necessary,  together  with  other  duties  of  military  discipline. 
After  giving  these  admonitions,  they  departed,  accompanied 
by  the  tears  of  the  miserable  inhabitants  ;  and  Fortune, 
smiling  on  their  departure,  restored  them  to  their  friends  and 
country.  The  Scots,  learning  the  improbability  of  their  re- 
turn, immediately  began  to  make  fresh  and  more  frequent 
irruptions  against  the  Britons  ;  to  level  their  wall,  to  kiU  the 
few  opponents  they  met  with,  and  to  carry  off  considerable 
booty  ;  while  such  as  escaped  fled  to  the  royal  residence, 
imploring  the  protection  of  their  sovereign. 

At  this  time  Vortigern  was  King  of  Britain  ;  a  man  calcu- 
lated neither  for  the  field  nor  the  council,  but  wholly  given 
up  to  the  lusts  of  the  flesh,  the  slave  of  every  vice  :  a  cha- 
racter of  insatiable  avarice,  ungovernable  pride,  and  polluted 
by  his  lusts.  To  complete  the  picture,  as  we  read  in  the 
History  of  the  Britons,  he  had  defiled  his  own  daughter,  who 
was  lured  to  the  participation  of  such  a  crime  by  the  hope  of 
sharing  his  kingdom,  and  she  had  borne  him  a  son.  Regard- 
less of  his  treasures  at  this  dreadful  juncture,  and  wasting 
the  resources  of  the  kingdom  in  riotous  living,  he  was  awake 
only  to  the  blandishments  of  abandoned  women.  Roused  at 
length,  however,  by  the  clamours  of  the  people,  he  summoned 
a  council,  to  take  the  sense  of  his  nobility  on  the  state  of 
public  affairs.  To  be  brief,  it  was  unanimously  resolved  to 
invite  over  from  Germany  the  Angles  and  Saxons,  nations 
powerful  in  arms,  but  of  a  roving  life.  It  was  conceived 
that  this  would  be  a  double  advantage  :  for  it  was  thought 
that,  by  their  skill  in  war,  these  people  would  easily  subdue 
their  enemies  ;  and,  as  they  hitherto  had  no  certain  habita- 
tion, would  gladly  accept  even  an  unproductive  soil,  provided 
it  afforded  them  a  stationary  residence.  Moreover,  that  they 
could  not  be  suspected  of  ever  entertaining  a  design  against 
the  country,  since  the  remembrance  of  this  kindness  would 
soften  their  native  ferocity.  This  counsel  was  adopted,  and 
ambassadors,  men  of  rank,  and  worthy  to  represent .  the 
country,  were  sent  into  Germany. 

8  WILLIAM   OF   MALMESBUET.  ^  [b.i.c.1. 

The   Germans,    hearing   that   voluntarily   offered,  which 
they  had  long  anxiously  desired,  readily  obeyed  the  invita- 
tion ;    their   joy  quickening   their  haste.      Bidding    adieu, 
therefore,  to  their  native  fields  and  the  ties  of  kindi-ed,  they 
spread  their  sails  to  Fortune,  and,  with  a  favouring  breeze, 
arrived  in  Britain  in  three  of  those  long  vessels  which  they 
call  "  ceols."*     At  this  and  other  times  came  over  a  mixed 
multitude  from  three  of  the  German  nations  ;  that  is  to  say, 
the  Angles,  Saxons,  and  Jutes.     For  almost  all  the  country 
lying  to  the  north  of  the  British  ocean,  though  divided  into 
many  provinces,  is  justly  denominated  Germany,  from  its 
germinating  so  many  men.     And  as  the  pruner  cuts  off  the 
more  luxuriant  branches   of  the  tree  to  impart  a   livelier 
vigour  to  the  remainder,  so  the  inhabitants  of  this  country 
assist  their  common  parent  by  the  expulsion  of   a  part  of 
their  members,  lest  she  should  perish  by  giving  sustenance 
to  too  numerous  an  offspring  ;  but  in  order  to  obviate  dis- 
content,  they  cast  lots  who  shall  be  compelled  to  migrate. 
Hence   the  men  of   this    country   have   made   a  virtue   of 
necessity,  and,  when  driven  from  their  native  soil,  they  have 
gained  foreign  settlements  by  force  of  arms.     The  Vandals, 
for  instance,  who  formerly  over-ran  Africa  ;  the  Goths,  who 
made  themselves  masters  of  Spain ;  the  Lombards,  who,  even 
at  the  present  time,  are  settled  in  Italy  ;  and  the  Normans, 
who  have  given  their  own  name  to  that  part  of  Gaul  which 
they  subdued.     From  Germany,  then,  there  first  came  into 
Britain,  an  inconsiderable  number  indeed,  but  well  able  to 
make  up  for  their  paucity  by  their  courage.     These  were 
under  the  conduct  of  Hengist  and  Horsa,  two  brothers  of 
suitable  disposition,  and  of  noble  race  in  their  own  country. 
They  were  great-grandsons  of  the  celebrated  Woden,  from 
whom  almost  all  the  royal  families  of  these  barbarous  nations 
deduce  their  origin  ;  and  to  whom  the  nations  of  the  Angles, 
fondly  deifying  him,  have  consecrated  by  immemorial  super- 
stition the  fourth  day  of  the  week,  as  they  have  the  sixth  to 
his  wife  Frea.     Bede  has  related  in  what  particular  parts  of 

*  These  are  supposed  to  be  long  vessels,  somewhat  like  galleys,  and  it 
would  appear,  as  well  from  Brompton,  col.  897,  as  from  so  small  a  number 
containing  a  body  equal  to  a  military  enterprise  like  that  described  here  and 
in  other  places,  that  they  vere  of  considerable  burden. 

AD.  449]  ARKTV^AL    OF    HENGIST.  9 

Britain,  the  Angles,  Saxons,  and  Jutes,*  fixed  their  habita- 
tions :  my  design,  however,  is  not  to  dilate,  though  there 
may  be  abundance  of  materials  for  the  purpose,  but  to  touch 
only  on  what  is  necessary. 

The  Angles  were  eagerly  met  on  all  sides  upon  their 
arrival :  from  the  king  they  received  thanks,  from  the  people 
expressions  of  good- will.  Faith  was  plighted  on  either  side, 
and  the  Isle  of  Thanet  appropriated  for  their  residence.  It 
was  agreed,  moreover,  that  they  should  exert  their  prowess 
in  arms  for  the  service  of  the  country  ;  and,  in  return, 
receive  a  suitable  reward  from  the  people  for  whose  safety 
they  underwent  such  painful  labours.  Ere  long,  the  Scots 
advanced,  as  usual,  secure,  as  they  supposed,  of  a  great  booty 
with  very  little  difficulty.  However,  the  Angles  assailed 
them,  and  scarcely  had  they  engaged,  before  they  were  put  to 
flight,  whilst  the  cavalry  pursued  and  destroyed  the  fugitives. 
Contests  of  this  kind  were  frequent,  and  victory  constantly 
siding  with  the  Angles,  as  is  customary  in  human  affairs, 
wliile  success  inflamed  the  courage  of  one  party,  and  dread 
increased  the  cowardice  of  the  other,  the  Scots  in  the  end 
avoided  nothing  so  cautiously  as  an  engagement  with  them. 

In  the  meantime,  Hengist,  not  less  keen  in  perception 
than  ardent  in  the  field,  with  consent  of  Yortigern,  sends 
back  some  of  his  followers  to  his  own  country,  with  the 
secret  purpose,  however,  of  representing  the  indolence  of  the 
king  and  people,  the  opulence  of  the  island,  and  the  prospect 
of  advantage  to  new  adventurers.  Having  executed  their 
commission  adi'oitly,  in  a  short  time  they  return  with  sixteen 
ships,  bringing  with  them  the  daughter  of  Hengist  ;  a 
maiden,  as  we  have  heard,  who  might  iustly  be  called  the 
master-piece  of  nature  and  the  admiration  of  mankind.  At 
an  entertainment,  provided  for  them  on  their  return,  Hen- 
gist commanded  his  daughter  to  assume  the  office  of  cup- 
bearer, that  she  might  gratify  the  eyes  of  the  king  as  he  sat 
at  table.  Nor  was  the  design  unsuccessful  :  for  he,  ever 
eager  after  female  beauty,  deeply  smitten  with  the  graceful- 

*  Bede  i.  15.  The  people  of  Kent  and  of  the  Isle  of  Wight  were  Jutes  ; 
the  East,  South,  and  West  Saxons,  were  Saxons  ;  and  of  the  Angles  came 
the  East- Angles,  Mid- Angles,  Mercians,  and  Northumbrians.  For  the 
limits  of  the  several  kingdoms  of  the  Heptarchy,  see  Chap.  VI.  The 
Cottonian  MS.  ('Claud,  ix.)  reads,  Wichtis. 

10  WILLIAM  OF    MALMESBUKY.  [b.  i.  c.  1. 

ness  of  her  form  and  the  elegance  of  her  motion,  instantly- 
conceived  a  vehement  desire  for  the  possession  of  her  person, 
and  immediately  proposed  marriage  to  her  father  ;  urging 
him  to  a  measure  to  which  he  was  already  well  inclined. 
Hengist,  at  first,  kept  up  the  artifice  by  a  refusal  ;  stating, 
that  so  humble  a  connection  was  unworthy  of  a  king  :  but, 
at  last,  appearing  to  consent  with  reluctance,  he  gave  way  to 
his  importunities,  and  accepted,  as  a  reward,  the  whole  of 
Kent,  where  all  justice  had  long  since  declined  under  the 
administration  of  its  Gourong  (or  Viceroy),  who,  like  the 
other  princes  of  the  island,  was  subject  to  the  monarchy  of 
Yortigern.  Not  satisfied  with  this  liberality,  but  abusing 
the  imprudence  of  the  king,  the  barbarian  persuaded  him  to 
send  for  his  son  and  brother,  men  of  warlike  talents,  from 
Germany,  pretending,  that  he  would  defend  the  province  on 
the  east,  while  they  might  curb  the  Scots  on  the  northern 
frontier.  The  king  assenting,  they  sailed  round  Britain,  and 
arriving  at  the  Orkney  Isles,  the  inhabitants  of  which  they 
involved  in  the  same  calamity  with  the  Picts  and  Scots,  at 
this  and  after  times,  they  finally  settled  in  the  northern  part 
of  the  island,  now  called  Northumbria.  Still  no  one  there 
assumed  the  royal  title  or  insignia  till  the  time  of  Ida,  from 
whom  sprang  the  regal  line  of  the  Northumbrians  ;  but  of 
this  hereafter.     We  will  now  return  to  the  present  subject. 

Vortimer,  the  son  of  Vortigern,  thinking  it  unnecessary 
longer  to  dissemble  that  he  saw  himself  and  his  Britons  cir- 
cumvented by  the  craft  of  the  Angles,  turned  his  thoughts 
to  their  expulsion,  and  stimulated  his  father  to  the  same 
attempt.  At  his  suggestion,  the  truce  was  broken  seven 
years  after  their  arrival  ;  and  during  the  ensuing  twenty, 
they  frequently  fought  partial  battles,*  and,  as  the  chronicle 
relates,  four  gf-neral  actions.  From  the  first  conflict  they 
parted  on  equal  terms  :  one  party  lamenting  the  loss  of 
Horsa,  the  brother  of  Hengist  ;  the  other,  that  of  Katigis, 
another  of  Vortigern's  sons.  The  Angles,  having  the  ad- 
vantage in  all  the  succeeding  encounters,  peace  was  con- 
cluded ;  Vortimer,  who  had  been  the  instigator  of  the  war, 

*  At  Aylesford,  a.d.  455  ;  at  Crayford,  457  ;  at  Wippedsfleet  (supposed, 
but  very  doubtful,  Ebbsfleet,  in  Thanet),  465  ;  and  the  fourth,  a.d.  473, 
the  place  not  mentioned.     See  Saxon  Chronicle,  a.d.  465. 

A.D.520.]  MASSACRE   OF    THE    BRITISH   NOBLES.  11 

and  differed  far  from  the  indolence  of  liis  father,  perished 
prematurely,  or  he  would  have  governed  the  kingdom  in  a 
noble  manner,  had  God  permitted.  When  he  died,  the 
British  strength  decayed,  and  all  hope  fled  from  them  ;  and 
they  would  soon  have  perished  altogether,  had  not  Ambro- 
sius,  the  sole  survivor  of  the  Eomans,  who  became  monarch 
after  Yortigern,  quelled  the  presumptuous  barbarians  by  the 
powerful  aid  of  warlike  Arthur.  It  is  of  this  Arthur  that 
the  Britons  fondly  tell  so  many  fables,  even  to  the  present 
day  ;  a  man  worthy  to  be  celebrated,  not  by  idle  fictions,  but 
by  authentic  liistory.  He  long  upheld  the  sinking  state,  and 
roused  the  broken  spirit  of  liis  countrymen  to  war.  Finally, 
at  the  siege  of  Mount  Badon,*  relying  on  an  image  of  the 
Virgin,  which  he  had  affixed  to  his  armour,  he  engaged  nine 
hundi'ed  of  the  enemy,  single-handed,  and  dispersed  them 
^vith  incredible  slaughter.  On  the  other  side,  the  Angles, 
after  various  revolutions  of  fortune,  filled  up  their  thinned 
battalions  with  fresh  supplies  of  their  countrymen  ;  rushed 
with  greater  courage  to  the  conflict,  and  extended  themselves 
by  degrees,  as  the  natives  retreated,  over  the  whole  island  : 
for  the  counsels  of  God,  in  whose  hand  is  every  change  of 
empire,  did  not  oppose  their  career.  But  this  was  effected 
in  process  of  time  ;  for  while  Vortigern  lived,  no  new  at- 
tempt was  made  against  them.  About  this  time,  Hengist, 
from  that  bad  quahty  of  the  human  heart,  which  grasps  after 
more  in  proportion  to  what  it  already  possesses,  by  a  pre- 
concerted piece  of  deception,  invited  his  son-in-law,  with 
three  hundi-ed  of  his  followers,  to  an  entertainment  ;  and 
when,  by  more  than  usual  compotations,  he  had  excited  them 
to  clamour,  he  began,  purposely,  to  taunt  them  severally,  with 
sarcastic  raillery :  this  had  the  desired  effect,  of  making  them 
first  quarrel,  and  then  come  to  blows.  Thus  the  Britons 
were  basely  murdered  to  a  man,  and  breathed  their  last  amid 
their  cups.  The  king  himself,  made  captive,  purchased 
his  liberty  at  the  price  of  three  provinces.  After  this, 
Hengist  died,  in  the  thirty-ninth  year  after  his  arrival ;  he 

*  Said  to  be  BannesdoM-n,  near  Bath.  Giraldus  Cambrensis  says,  the 
image  of  the  Virgin  was  fixed  on  the  inside  of  Arthur's  shield,  that  he  might 
kiss  it  in  battle.  Bede  erroneously  ascribes  this  event  to  a.d.  493.  (Bedi^'* 
Ecclesiastical  History,  b.  i.  c.  6.) 

12  WILLIAM   OF   MALMESBURY.  [b.  i.  c.  1. 

was  a  man,  who  urging  his  success  not  less  by  artifice  than 
courage,  and  giving  free  scope  to  his  natural  ferocity,  pre- 
ferred effecting  his  purpose  rather  by  cruelty  than  by 
kindness.  He  left  a  son  named  Eisc;*  who,  more  intent 
on  defending,  than  enlarging,  his  dominions,  never  exceeded 
the  paternal  bounds.  At  the  expiration  of  twenty-four  years, 
he  had  for  his  successors,  his  son  Otha,  and  Otha's  son,  Er- 
menric,  who,  in  their  manners,  resembled  him,  rather  than 
their  grandfather  and  great  grandfather.  To  the  times  of 
both,  the  Chronicles  assign  fifty-three  years;  but  whether 
they  reigned  singly,  or  together,  does  not  appear. 

After  them  Ethelbert,  the  son  of  Ermenic,  reigned  fifty- 
thi-ee  years  according  to  the  Chronicle ;  but  fifty-six  accord- 
ing to  Bede.  The  reader  must  determine  how  this  difference 
is  to  be  accounted  for;  as  I  think  it  sufficient  to  have  apprized 
him  of  it,  I  shall  let  the  matter  rest.f  In  the  infancy  of  his 
reign,  he  was  such  an  object  of  contempt  to  the  neighbouring 
kings,  that,  defeated  in  two  battles,  he  could  scarcely  defend 
his  frontier ;  afterwards,  however,  when  to  his  riper  years  he 
had  added  a  more  perfect  knowledge  of  war,  he  quickly,  by 
successive  victories,  subjugated  every  kingdom  of  the  Angles, 
with  the  exception  of  the  Northumbrians.  And,  in  order  to 
obtain  foreign  connections,  he  entered  into  affinity  with  the 
king  of  France,  by  marrying  his  daughter  Bertha.  And 
now  by  this  connection  with  the  Franks,  the  nation,  hitherto 
savage  and  wedded  to  its  own  customs,  began  daily  to  divest 
itself  of  its  rustic  propensities  and  incline  to  gentler  manners. 
To  this  was  added  the  very  exemplary  life  of  bishop  Luid- 
hard,  who  had  come  over  with  the  queen,  by  wliich,  though 
silently,  he  allured  the  king  to  the  knowledge  of  Christ  our 
Lord.  Hence  it  arose,  that  his  mind,  already  softened,  easily 
yielded  to  the  preaching  of  the  blessed  Augustine ;  and  he 
was  the  first  of  all  his  race  who  renounced  the  errors  of 
paganism,  that  he  might  obscure,  by  the  glory  of  his  faith, 

*  According  to  Sprott,  Hengist  died  in  488,  and  was  succeeded  by  his 
son  Octa,  vel  Osca.  Osca  died  a.d.  408,  and  Esc,  his  son,  ascended  the 
throne.  In  the  year  522  Ermenric,  the  father  of  king  Ethelbert,  reigned. 
Ethelbert  became  king  of  Kent  in  558. 

f  The  difference  seems  to  have  arisen  from  carelessness  in  the  scribe;  as 
the  Saxon  Chronicle  states  him  to  have  ascended  the  throne  a.d.  560,  and 
to  have  died  616:  which  is  exactly  fifty-six  years,  although  it  asserts  him  to 
liiive  reigned  only  53. 

A.D.  618.]  EDBALD.  13 

those  whom  lie  surpassed  in  power.  TMs,  indeed,  is  spotless 
nobility ;  this,  exalted  virtue  ;  to  excel  in  worth  those  whom 
you  exceed  in  rank.  Besides,  extending  his  care  to  pos- 
terity, he  enacted  laws,  in  his  native  tongue,  in  which  he 
appointed  rewards  for  the  meritorious,  and  opposed  severer 
restraints  to  the  abandoned,  leaving  nothing  doubtful  for  the 

Ethelbert  died  in  the  twenty-first  year  after  he  had  em- 
braced the  Christian  faith,  leaving  the  diadem  to  his  son 
Edbald.  As  soon  as  he  was  freed  from  the  restraints  of 
paternal  awe,  he  rejected  Christianity,  and  overcame  the 
virtue  of  his  stepmother. f  But  the  severity  of  the  divine 
mercy  opposed  a  barrier  to  his  utter  destruction :  for  the 
princes,  whom  his  father  had  subjugated,  immediately  re- 
belled, he  lost  a  part  of  his  dominions,  and  was  perpetually 
haunted  by  an  evil  spirit,  whereby  he  paid  the  penalty  of 
his  unbehef.  Laurentius,  the  successor  of  Augustine,  was 
offended  at  these  transactions,  and  after  having  sent  away 
his  companions,  was  meditating  his  own  departure  from  the 
country,  but  having  received  chastisement  from  God,  he  was 
induced  to  change  his  resolution.;};  The  king  conversing  with 
him  on  the  subject,  and  finding  his  assertions  confirmed  by 
his  stripes,  became  easily  converted,  accepted  the  grace  of 
Christianity,  and  broke  off  his  incestuous  intercourse.  But, 
that  posterity  might  be  impressed  with  the  singular  punish- 
ment due  to  apostacy,  it  was  with  difliculty  he  could  main- 
tain his  hereditary  dominions,  much  less  rival  the  eminence 
of  his  father.  For  the  remainder  of  his  life,  his  faith  was 
sound,  and  he  did  nothing  to  sully  his  reputation.  The 
monastery  also,  which  his  father  had  founded  without  the 
waUs  of  Canterbury,  §  he  ennobled  with  large  estates,  and 
sumptuous  presents.  The  praises  and  merits  of  both  these 
men  ought  ever  to  be  proclaimed,  and  had  in  honour  by  the 
English ;  because  they  allowed  the  Christian  faith  to  acquire 

*  See  Wilkins's  "  Leges  Anglo-Saxonicae,"  and  the  Textus  RofFensis. 

f  The  name  of  the  second  queen  of  Ethelbert  is  not  mentioned,  pro- 
bably on  account  of  this  incest. 

X  St.  Peter,  it  is  said,  appeared  to  Laurentius  at  night,  and  reproaching 
him  for  his  cowardice,  severely  chastised  him  with  a  scourge;  the  marks  of 
which  had  the  effect  here  mentioned  the  next  day.  Bede  ii.  6.  According 
to  Sprott,  St.  Laurentius  became  archbishop  of  Canterbury,  a.d.  610. 

§  St.  Augustine's,  Canterbury,  completed,  according  to  Sprott,  a.d.  663. 

14  WILLIAM   OF   MALMESBURY.  [b.  i.  c  1. 

Strength,  in  England,  by  patient  listening  and  willingness  to 
believe.  Who  can  contemplate,  without  satisfaction,  the  just 
and  amiable  answer  which  Bede  makes  king  Ethelbert  to 
have  given  to  the  first  preaching  of  Augustine  ?  "  That  he 
could  not,  thus  early,  embrace  a  new  doctrine  and  leave  the 
accustomed  worship  of  his  country ;  but  that,  nevertheless, 
persons  who  had  undertaken  so  long  a  journey  for  the  pur- 
pose of  kindly  communicating  to  the  Angles  what  they 
deemed  an  inestimable  benefit,  far  from  meeting  with  ill- 
treatment,  ought  rather  to  be  allowed  full  liberty  to  preach, 
and  also  to  receive  the  amplest  maintenance."  He  fully  kept 
his  promise ;  and  at  length  the  truth  of  Christianity  becom- 
ing apparent  by  degrees,  himself  and  all  his  subjects  were 
admitted  into  the  number  of  the  faithful.  And  what  did  the 
other  ?  Though  led  away  at  first,  more  by  the  lusts  of  the 
flesh  than  perverseness  of  heart,  yet  he  paid  respect  to  the 
virtuous  conduct  of  the  prelates,  although  he  neglected  their 
faith;  and  lastly,  as  I  have  related,  was  easily  converted 
through  the  sufferings  of  Laurentius,  and  became  of  infinite 
service  to  the  propagation  of  Christianity.  Both,  then,  were 
laudable :  both  deserved  high  encomiums ;  for  the  good  work, 
so  nobly  begun  by  the  one,  was  as  kindly  fostered  by  the 

To  him,  after  a  reign  of  twenty-four  years,  succeeded 
Erconbert,  his  son,  by  Emma,  daughter  of  the  king  of 
France.  He  reigned  an  equal  number  of  years  with  his 
father,  but  under  happier  auspices ;  alike  remarkable  for 
piety  towards  God,  and  love  to  his  country.  For  his  grand- 
father, and  father,  indeed,  adopted  our  faith,  but  neglected  to 
destroy  their  idols ;  whilst  he,  tliinking  it  derogatory  to  his 
royal  zeal  not  to  take  the  readiest  mode  of  annihilating  openly 
what  they  only  secretly  condemned,  levelled  every  temple  of 
their  gods  to  the  ground,  that  not  a  trace  of  their  paganism 
might  be  handed  down  to  posterity.  This  was  nobly  done : 
for  the  mass  of  the  people  would  be  reminded  of  their  super- 
stition, so  long  as  they  could  see  the  altars  of  their  deities. 
In  order,  also,  that  he  might  teach  his  subjects,  who  were 
too  much  given  to  sensual  indulgence,  to  accustom  them- 
selves to  temperance,  he  enjoined  the  solemn  fast  of  Lent 
to  be  observed  throughout  his  dominions.  This  was  an 
extraordinary  act  for  the  king  to  attempt  in  those  times: 

A.D.  664— C86.]  EGBERT LOTHERE.  15 

but  he  was  a  man  whom  no  blandishments  of  luxury  could 
enervate ;  no  anxiety  for  power  seduce  from  the  worship  of 
God.  Wherefore  he  was  protected  by  the  favour  of  the 
Almighty;  every  thing,  at  home  and  abroad,  succeeded  to 
his  wishes,  and  he  grew  old  in  uninterrupted  tranquillity. 
His  daughter  Ercongotha,  a  child  worthy  of  such  a  parent, 
and  emulating  her  father  in  virtuous  qualities,  became  a 
shining  light  in  the  monastery  of  Kalas  in  Gaul.* 

His  son  Egbert,  retaining  his  father's  throne  for  nine 
years,  did  nothing  memorable  in  so  short  a  reign ;  unless 
indeed  it  be  ascribed  to  the  glory  of  this  period,  that  Theo- 
doref  the  archbishop,  and  Adrian  the  abbat,  two  consummate 
scholars,  came  into  England  in  his  reign.  Were  not  the  sub- 
ject already  trite,  I  should  willingly  record  what  light  they 
shed  upon  the  Britons ;  how  on  one  side  the  Greeks,  and  on 
the  other  the  Latins,  emulously  contributed  their  knowledge 
to  the  public  stock,  and  made  this  island,  once  the  nurse  of 
tyrants,  the  constant  residence  of  philosophy :  but  this  and 
every  other  merit  of  the  times  of  Egbert  is  clouded  by  his 
horrid  crime,  of  either  destroying,  or  permitting  to  be  de- 
stroyed, Elbert  and  Egelbright,  his  nephews. | 

To  Egbert  succeeded  his  brother  Lothere,  who  began  his 
reign  with  unpropitious  omens.  For  he  was  harassed  during 
eleven  years  by  Edric,  the  son  of  Egbert,  and  engaged  in 
many  civil  conflicts  which  terminated  with  various  success, 
until  he  was  ultimately  pierced  through  the  body  with  a  dart, 
and  died  while  they  were  applying  remedies  to  the  wound. 
Some  say,  that  both  the  brothers  perished  by  a  premature 
death  as  a  just  return  for  their  cruelty  ;  because  Egbert,  as 
I  have  related,  murdered  the  innocent  children  of  his  uncle ; 
and  Lothere  ridiculed  the  notion  of  holding  them  up  as 
martyrs  :  although  the  former  had  lamented  the  action,  and 
had  granted  a  part  of  the  Isle  of  Thanet  to  the  mother  of 
his  nephews,  for  the  purpose  of  building  a  monastery. 

♦  Chelles,  near  Paris. 

f  Theodore,  archbishop  of  Canterbury,  was  a  native  of  Tarsus  in  Cilicia, 
and  a  prelate  of  great  learning;  but  it  being  apprehended  by  Pope  Vitalian 
that  he  might  rather  incline  to  the  doctrines  of  the  Greek  Church,  Adrian 
was  sent  with  him,  as  a  kind  of  superintendent,  and  was  appointed  abbat 
of  St.  Augustine's. 

:J:  See  book  ii.  chap.  1 3,  "  but  this  and  every  other,"  &c.  Some  editions 
omit  this  passage  altogether. 

16  WILLIAM   OF    MALMESKURY.  Lb.  i.  c.  1. 

Nor  did  Edric  long  boast  the  prosperous  state  of  his 
government ;  for  within  two  years  he  was  despoiled  both  of 
kingdom  and  of  life,  and  left  his  country  to  be  torn  in  pieces 
by  its  enemies.  Immediately  Csedwalla,  with  his  brother 
Mull,  in  other  respects  a  good  and  able  man,  but  breathing 
an  inextinguishable  hatred  against  the  people  of  Kent,  made 
vigorous  attempts  upon  the  province  ;  supposing  it  must 
easily  surrender  to  his  views,  as  it  had  lately  been  in  the 
enjoyment  of  long  continued  peace,  but  at  that  time  was  torn 
with  intestine  war.  He  found,  however,  the  inhabitants  by 
no  means  unprepared  or  void  of  courage,  as  he  had  expected. 
For,  after  many  losses  sustained  in  the  towns  and  villages,  at 
length  they  rushed  with  spirit  to  the  conflict.  They  gained 
the  victory  in  the  contest,  and  having  put  Csedwalla  to  flight, 
drove  his  brother  Mull  into  a  little  cottage,  which  they  set 
on  fire.  Thus,  wanting  courage  to  sally  out  against  the 
enemy,  the  fire  gained  uncontrolled  power,  and  he  perished 
in  the  flames.  Nevertheless  Caedwalla  ceased  not  his  efforts, 
nor  retired  from  the  province  ;  but  consoled  himself  for  his 
losses  by  repeatedly  ravaging  the  district ;  however,  he  left 
the  avenging  of  this  injury  lo  Ina,  his  successor,  as  will  be 
related  in  its  place. 

In  this  desperate  state  of  the  affairs  of  Kent,  there  was  a 
void  of  about  six  years  in  the  royal  succession.  In  the 
seventh,  Withred,  the  son  of  Egbert,  having  repressed  the 
malevolence  of  his  countrymen  by  his  activity,  and  purchased 
peace  from  his  enemies  by  money,  was  chosen  king  by  the 
inhabitants,  who  entertained  great  and  well-founded  hopes  of 
him.  He  was  an  admirable  ruler  at  home,  invincible  in 
war,  and  a  truly  pious  follower  of  the  Christian  faith,  for  he 
extended  its  power  to  the  utmost.  And,  to  complete  his  felicity, 
after  a  reign  of  thirty-three  years,  he  died  in  extreme  old  age, 
which  men  generally  reckon  to  be  their  greatest  happiness, 
leaving  his  three  children  his  heirs.  These  were  Egbert, 
Ethelbert,  and  Alric,  and  they  reigned  twenty-three,  eleven, 
and  thirty-four  years  successively,  without  deviation  from 
the  excellent  example  and  institutions  of  their  father,  except 
that  Ethelbert,  by  the  casual  burning  of  Canterbury,  and 
Alric,  by  an  unsuccessful  battle  with  the  Mercians,  consider- 
ably obscured  the  glory  of  their  reigns.  So  it  is  that,  if  any 
thing  disgraceful  occurs,  it  is  not  concealed  ;  if  any  thing 

A.D.  774.-S23.]  DOWNFALL    OF   KENT.  17 

fortunate,  it  is  not  sufficiently  noticed  in  the  Clironicles  ; 
whether  it  be  done  designedly,  or  whether  it  arise  from  that 
bad  quality  of  the  human  mind,  which  makes  gratitude  for 
good  transient ;  whereas  the  recollection  of  e\dl  remains  for 
ever.  After  these  men  the  noble  stock  of  kings  began  to 
wither,  the  royal  blood  to  flow  cold.  Then  every  daring 
adventurer,  who  had  acquired  riches  by  his  eloquence,  or 
whom  faction  had  made  formidable,  aspired  to  the  kingdom, 
and  disgraced  the  ensigns  of  royalty.  Of  these,  Edbert 
otherwise  called  Pren,  after  having  governed  Kent  two  years, 
over-rating  his  power,  was  taken  prisoner  in  a  war  with  the 
Mercians,  and  loaded  with  chains.  But  being  set  at  liberty 
by  his  enemies,  though  not  received  by  his  own  subjects,  it 
is  uncertain  by  what  end  he  perished.  Cuthred,  heir  to4'he 
same  faction  and  calamity,  reigned,  in  name  only,  eight  years. 
Next  Baldred,  a  mere  abortion  of  a  king,  after  having  for 
eighteen  years  more  properly  possessed,  than  governed  the 
kingdom,  went  into  exile,  on  his  defeat  by  Egbert,  king  of 
the  West  Saxons.  Thus  the  kingdom  of  Kent,  which,  from 
the  year  of  our  Lord  449,  had  continued  375  years,  became 
annexed  to  another.  And  since  by  following  the  royal  line 
of  the  first  kingdom  which  arose  among  the  Angles,  I  have 
elicited  a  spark,  as  it  were,  from  the  embers  of  antiquity,  I 
shall  now  endeavour  to  throw  light  on  the  kingdom  of  the 
West  Saxons,  which,  though  after  a  considerable  lapse  of 
time,  was  the  next  that  sprang  up.  While  others  were 
neglected  and  wasted  away,  this  flourished  with  uncon- 
querable vigour,  even  to  the  coming  of  the  Normans ;  and,  if 
I  may  be  permitted  the  expression,  with  greedy  jaws 
swallowed  up  the  rest.  Wherefore,  after  tracing  this 
kingdom  in  detail  down  to  Egbert,  I  shall  briefly,  for  fear  of 
disgusting  my  readers,  subjoin  some  notices  of  the  two 
remaining  ;  this  will  be  a  suitable  termination  to  the  first 
book,  and  the  second  will  continue  the  history  of  the  West 
Saxons  alone. 


Of  the  kings  of  the  West  Saxons,     [a.d.  495.] 

The  kingdom  of  the  West  Saxons, — and  one  more  magnificent 
or  lasting  Britain  never  beheld, — sprang  from  Cerdic,  and  soon 

18  WILLIAM  OF   MALMESBURT.  [b.  t.  c.  2. 

increased  to  great  importance.  He  was  a  German  by  nation, 
of  the  noblest  race,  being  the  tenth  from  Woden,  and,  having 
nurtured  his  ambition  in  domestic  broils,  determined  to  leave 
his  native  land  and  extend  his  fame  by  the  sword.  Having 
formed  this  daring  resolution  he  communicated  his  design  to 
Cenric  his  son,  who  closely  followed  his  father's  track  to 
glory,  and  with  his  concurrence  transported  his  forces  into 
Britain  in  five  ceols.  This  took  place  in  the  year  of  our 
Saviour's  incarnation  495,  and  the  eighth  after  the  death  of 
Hengist.  Coming  into  action  with  the  Britons  the  very  day 
of  his  arrival,  this  experienced  soldier  soon  defeated  an 
undisciplined  multitude,  and  compelled  them  to  fly.  By  this 
success  he  obtained  perfect  security  in  future  for  himself,  as 
well  as  peace  for  the  inhabitants  of  those  parts.  For  they 
never  dared  after  that  day  to  attack  him,  but  voluntarily 
submitted  to  his  dominion.  Nevertheless  he  did  not  waste 
his  time  in  indolence  ;  but,  on  the  contrary,  extending  his 
conquests  on  all  sides,  by  the  time  he  had  been  twenty-four 
years  in  the  island,  he  had  obtained  the  supremacy  of  the 
western  part  of  it,  called  West- Saxony.  He  died  after  enjoy- 
ing it  sixteen  years,  and  his  whole  kingdom,  with  the  exception 
of  the  isle  of  Wight,  descended  to  his  son.  This,  by  the 
royal  munificence,  became  subject  to  his  nephew,  Withgar  ; 
who  was  as  dear  to  his  uncle  by  the  ties  of  kindred,  for  he 
was  his  sister's  son,  as  by  his  skill  in  war,  and  formed  a 
noble  principality  in  the  island,  where  he  was  afterwards 
splendidly  interred.  Cenric  moreover,  who  was  as  illustrious 
as  his  father,  after  twenty-six  years,  bequeathed  the  kingdom, 
somewhat  enlarged,  to  his  son  Ceawlin. 

The  Chronicles  extol  the  singular  valour  of  this  man  in 
battle,  so  as  to  excite  a  degree  of  envious  admiration  ;  for  he 
was  the  astonishment  of  the  Angles,  the  detestation  of  the 
Britons,  and  was  eventually  the  destruction  of  both.  I  shall 
briefly  subjoin  some  extracts  from  them.  Attacking  Ethel- 
bert  king  of  Kent,  who  was  a  man  in  other  respects  laudable, 
but  at  that  time  was  endeavouring  from  the  consciousness  of 
his  family's  dignity  to  gain  the  ascendency,  and,  on  this 
account,  making  too  eager  incursions  on  the  territories  of  his 
neighbour,  he  routed  his  troops  and  forced  him  to  retreat. 
The  Britons,  who,  in  the  times  of  his  father  and  grandfather, 
had  escaped  destruction  either  by  a  show  of  submission,  or 

^.D.  577.-626.]  CYNEGILS   AND   CUICBELM.  .    19 

by  tlie  strength  of  their  fortifications  at  Gloucester,  Ciren- 
cester, and  Bath,  he  now  pursued  with  ceaseless  rancour  ; 
ejected  them  from  their  cities,  and  chased  them  into 
mountainous  and  woody  districts,  as  at  the  present  day. 
But  about  this  time,  as  some  unluckly  throw  of  the  dice  in 
the  table  of  human  life  perpetually  disappoints  mankind,  his 
mihtary  successes  were  clouded  by  domestic  calamity  :  his 
brother  Cutha  met  an  untimely  death,  and  he  had  a  son 
of  the  same  name  taken  off  in  battle  ;  both  young  men  of 
great  expectation,  whose  loss  he  frequently  lamented  as  a 
severe  blow  to  his  happiness.  Finally,  in  his  latter  days, 
himself,  banished  from  his  kingdom,  presented  a  spectacle, 
pitiable  even  to  his  enemies.  For  he  had  sounded,  as  it 
were,  the  trumpet  of  his  own  detestation  on  all  sides,  and 
the  Angles  as  well  as  the  Britons  conspiring  against  him,  his 
forces  were  destroyed  at  Wodensdike  ;  *  he  lost  his  kingdom 
thirty-one  years  after  he  had  gained  it ;  went  into  exile, 
and  shortly  after  died.  The  floating  reins  of  government 
were  then  directed  by  his  nephews,  the  sons  of  Cutha,  that 
is  to  say,  Cebic  during  six,  Ceolwulf  during  fourteen  years  : 
of  these  the  inferior  with  respect  to  age,  but  the  more 
excellent  in  spirit,  passed  all  his  days  in  war,  nor  ever 
neglected,  for  a  moment,  the  protection  and  extension  of  his 

After  him,  the  sons  of  Celric,  Cynegils  and  Cuichelm, 
jointly  put  on  the  ensigns  of  royalty  ;  both  active,  both 
contending  with  each  other  only  in  mutual  ofiices  of  kind- 
ness ;  insomuch,  that  to  their  contemporaries  they  were  a 
miracle  of  concord  very  unusual  amongst  princes,  and  to 
posterity  a  proper  example.  It  is  difficult  to  say  whether 
their  courage  or  their  moderation  exceeded  in  the  numberless 
contests  in  wliich  they  engaged  either  against  the  Britons,  or 
against  Penda,  king  of  the  Mercians  :  a  man,  as  will  be 
related  in  its  place,  wonderfully  expert  in  the  subtleties  of 
wai- ;  and  who,  overpassing  the  Hmits  of  his  own  territory, 
in  an  attempt  to  add  Cirencester  to  his  possessions,  being 
unable  to  withstand  the  power  of  these  united  kings,  escaped 
with  only  a  few  followers.  A  considerable  degree  of  guilt 
indeed  attaches  to  Cuichelm,  for  attempting  to  take  off,  by  the 
hands  of  an  assassin,  Edwin  king  of  the  Northumbrians,  a 
*  Wansdike,  in  Wiltsliire. 

c  2 

20  WILLIAM   OF   IIALMESBURY.  [b.  i.  c.  2. 

man  of  acknowledged  prudence.  Yet,  if  the  heathen  maxim, 

Who  asks  if  fraud  or  force  availed  the  foe  ?  * 

be  considered,  he  will  be  readily  excused,  as  having  done 
nothing  uncommon,  in  wishing  to  get  rid,  by  whatever  means, 
of  a  rival  encroaching  on  his  power.  For  he  had  formerly 
lopped  off  much  from  the  West  Saxon  empire,  and  now 
receiving  fresh  ground  of  offence,  and  his  ancient  enmity 
reviving,  he  inflicted  heavy  calamities  on  that  people.  The 
kings,  however,  escaped,  and  were,  not  long  after,  enlightened 
with  the  heavenly  doctrine,  by  the  means  of  St.  Birinus  the 
bishop,  in  the  twenty-fifth  year  of  their  reign,  and  the 
fortieth  after  the  coming  of  the  blessed  Augustine,  the 
apostle  of  the  Angles.  Cynegils,  veiling  his  princely  pride, 
condescended  to  receive  immediately  the  holy  rite  of  baptism : 
Cuichelm  resisted  for  a  time,  but  warned,  by  the  sickness  of 
his  body,  not  to  endanger  the  salvation  of  his  soul,  he  became 
a  sharer  in  his  brother's  piety,  and  died  the  same  year. 
Cynegils  departed  six  years  afterwards,  in  the  thirty-first 
year  of  his  reign,  enjoying  the  happiness  of  a  long-extended 

Kenwalk  his  son  succeeded :  in  the  beginning  of  his  reign, 
to  be  compared  only  to  the  worst  of  princes  ;  but,  in  the 
succeeding  and  latter  periods,  a  rival  of  the  best.  The 
moment  the  young  man  became  possessed  of  power,  wantoning 
in  regal  luxury  and  disregarding  the  acts  of  his  father,  he 
abjured  Christianity  and  legitimate  marriage  ;  but  being 
attacked  and  defeated  by  Penda,  king  of  Mercia,  whose 
sister  he  had  repudiated,  he  fled  to  the  king  of  the  East 
Angles.  Here,  by  a  sense  of  his  own  calamities  and  by  the 
perseverance  of  his  host,  he  was  once  more  brought  back  to 
the  Christian  faith  ;  and  after  three  years,  recovering  his 
strength  and  resuming  his  kingdom,  he  exhibited  to  his 
subjects  the  joyful  miracle  of  his  reformation.  So  valiant 
was  he,  that,  he  who  formerly  was  unable  to  defend  his  own 
territories,  now  extended  his  dominion  on  every  side ; 
totally  defeating  in  two  actions  the  Britons,  furious 
with  the  recollection  of  their  ancient  liberty,  and  in  conse- 
quence perpetually  meditating  resistance  ;  first,  at  a  place 
called  Witgeornesburgjj"  and   then   at   a   mountain   named 

*  Virgil,  ^n.  ii.  S90.     f  Bradford  on  Avon.  See  Sax.  Chron.  a.d.  652. 

A.D.  658.1  ACCOUNT    OF    GLASTONBURY.  *  21 

Pene  ;  *  and  again,  avenging  the  injury  of  his  father  on 
Wulf  here,  the  son  of  Penda,  he  deprived  him  of  the  greatest 
part  of  his  kingdom  :  moreover  he  was  so  religious,  that, 
first  of  aU  his  race,  he  built,  for  those  times,  a  most  beautiful 
church  at  Winchester,  on  which  site  afterwards  was  founded 
the  episcopal  see  with  still  more  skilful  magnificence. 

But  since  we  have  arrived  at  the  times  of  Kenwalk,  and 
the  proper  place  occurs  for  mentioning  the  monastery  of 
Glastonbury, f  I  shall  trace  from  its  very  origin  the  rise  and 
progress  of  that  church  as  far  as  I  am  able  to  discover  it 
from  the  mass  of  evidences.  It  is  related  in  annals  of  good 
credit  that  Lucius,  king  of  the  Britons,  sent  to  Pope  Eleu- 
therius,  thirteenth  in  succession  from  St.  Peter,  to  entreat, 
that  he  would  dispel  the  darkness  of  Britain  by  the  splendour 
of  Christian  instruction.  This  surely  was  the  commendable 
deed  of  a  magnanimous  prince,  eagerly  to  seek  that  faith,  the 
mention  of  which  had  barely  reached  him,  at  a  time  when  it 
was  an  object  of  persecution  to  almost  every  king  and  people 
to  whom  it  was  offered.  In  consequence,  preachers,  sent  by 
Eleutherius,  came  into  Britain,  the  effects  of  whose  labours 
will  remain  for  ever,  although  the  rust  of  antiquity  may  have 
obliterated  their  names.  By  these  was  built  the  ancient 
church  of  St.  Mary  of  Glastonbury,  as  faithful  tradition  has 
handed  down  through  decaying  time.  Moreover  there  are 
documents  of  no  small  credit,  which  have  been  discovered  in 
certain  places  to  the  following  effect :  "  No  other  hands  than 
those  of  the  disciples  of  Christ  erected  the  church  of 
Glastonbury."  Nor  is  it  dissonant  from  probability  :  for  if 
Philip,  the  Apostle,  preached  to  the  Gauls,  as  Freculphus 
relates  in  the  fourth  chapter  of  his  second  book,  it  may  be 
believed  that  he  also  planted  the  word  on  this  side  of  the 
channel  also.  But  that  I  may  not  seem  to  balk  the 
expectation  of  my  readers  by  vain  imaginations,  leaving  aU 
doubtful  matter,  I  shall  proceed  to  the  relation  of  substantial 

*  Pen,  in  Somersetshire. 

t  Malmesbiuy  wrote  a  History  of  Glastonbury,  which  is  printed  in 
Gale's  Collection,  vol.  iii.  and  by  Heame,  in  the  History  of  Glastonbuiy, 
and  from  this  work  he  extracts  this  account.  Sharpe  gives  it  [from  "  But 
since,"  &c.  to  "  character  so  munificent"  in  page  28,  line  2],  in  a  note  as  a 
various  reading  of  one  of  the  MSS.  The  note  occupies  the  greater  part 
of  seven  pages  from  25  to  31  in  Sharpe's  original  volume. 

22  '  WILLIAM  OP  MALMESBURT.  [b.  i.  c.  2. 

The  church  of  which  we  are  speaking,  from  its  antiquity 
called  by  the  Angles,  by  way  of  distinction,  "  Ealde  Chirche,'' 
that  is,  the  "  Old  Church,"  of  wattle-work,  at  first,  savoured 
somewhat  of  heavenly  sanctity  even  from  its  very  foundation, 
and  exhaled  it  over  the  whole  country  ;  claiming  superior 
reverence,  though  the  structure  was  mean.  Hence,  here 
arrived  whole  tribes  of  the  lower  orders,  thronging  every 
path  ;  here  assembled  the  opulent  divested  of  their  pomp  ; 
and  it  became  the  crowded  residence  of  the  religious  and 
the  literary.  For,  as  we  have  heard  from  men  of  old  time, 
here  Gildas,  an  historian  neither  unlearned  nor  inelegant,  to 
whom  the  Britons  are  indebted  for  whatever  notice  they 
obtain  among  other  nations,  captivated  by  the  sanctity  of  the 
place,  took  up  his  abode  for  a  series  of  years.*  This  church, 
then,  is  certainly  the  oldest  I  am  acquainted  with  in 
England,  and  from  this  circumstance  derives  its  name.  In 
it  are  preserved  the  mortal  remains  of  many  saints,  some  of 
whom  we  shall  notice  in  our  progress,  nor  is  any  corner  of 
the  church  destitute  of  the  ashes  of  the  holy.  The  very 
floor,  inlaid  with  polished  stone,  and  the  sides  of  the  altar, 
and  even  the  altar  itself  above  and  beneath  are  laden  with 
the  multitude  of  relics.  Moreover  in  the  pavement  may  be 
remarked  on  every  side  stones  designedly  interlaid  in 
triangles  and  squares,  and  figured  with  lead,  under  which  if 
I  believe  some  sacred  enigma  to  be  contained,  I  do  no 
injustice  to  religion.  The  antiquity,  and  multitude  of  its 
saints,  have  endued  the  place  with  so  much  sanctity,  that,  at 
night,  scarcely  any  one  presumes  to  keep  vigil  there,  or, 
during  the  day,  to  spit  upon  its  floor  :  he  who  is  conscious  of 
pollution  shudders  throughout  his  whole  frame  :  no  one  ever 
brought  hawk  or  horses  within  the  confines  of  the  neigh- 
bouring cemetery,  who  did  not  depart  injured  either  in  them 
or  in  himself.  Within  the  memory  of  man,  all  persons  who, 
before  undergoing  the  ordeal  f  of  fire  or  water,  there  put  up 

*  There  is  a  Life  of  Gildas,  written  not  long  after  this  history,  by  Caradoc 
of  Lancarvon,  in  which  we  are  told,  that,  while  he  was  residing  at  Glaston- 
bury, a  prince  of  that  country  carried  off  Arthur's  queen  and  lodged  her 
there ;  that  Arthur  immediately  besieged  it,  but,  through  the  mediation  of 
the  abbat,  and  of  Gildas,  consented,  at  length,  to  receive  his  wife  again  and 
to  depart  peaceably. 

+  The  ordeal  was  an  appeal  to  heaven  to  decide  immediately  on  the 
justice  of  the  cause.     There  were  many  modes  of  this  whimsical  trial ;  as 


their  petitions,  exulted  in  their  escape,  one  only  excepted  :  if 
any  person  erected  a  building  in  its  vicinity,  which  by  its 
shade  obstructed  the  light  of  the  church,  it  forthwith  became 
a  ruin.  And  it  is  sufficiently  evident,  that,  the  men  of  that 
province  had  no  oath  more  frequent,  or  more  sacred,  than  to 
swear  by  the  Old  Church,  fearing  the  swiftest  vengeance  on 
their  perjury  in  this  respect.  The  truth  of  what  I  have 
asserted,  if  it  be  dubious,  will  be  supported  by  testimony  in 
the  book  which  I  have  written,  on  the  antiquity  of  the  said 
church,  according  to  the  series  of  years. 

In  the  meantime  it  is  clear,  that  the  depository  of  so 
many  saints  may  be  deservedly  styled  an  heavenly  sanctuary 
upon  earth.  There  are  numbers  of  documents,  though  I 
abstain  from  mentioning  them  for  fear  of  causing  weariness, 
to  prove  how  extremely  venerable  this  place  was  held  by  the 
chief  persons  of  the  country,  who  there  more  especially  chose 
to  await  the  day  of  resurrection  under  the  protection  of  the 
mother  of  God.  Willingly  would  I  declare  the  meaning  of 
those  pyramids,  which  are  almost  incomprehensible  to  all, 
could  I  but  ascertain  the  truth.  These,  situated  some  few 
feet  from  the  church,  border  on  the  cemetery  of  the  monks. 
That  which  is  the  loftiest  and  nearest  the  church,  is  twenty- 
eight  feet  high  and  has  five  stories :  this,  though  threatening 
ruin  from  its  extreme  age,  possesses  nevertheless  some  traces 
of  antiquity,  which  may  be  clearly  read  though  not  perfectly 
understood.  In  the  liighest  story  is  an  image  in  a  pontifical 
habit.  In  the  next  a  statue  of  regal  dignity,  and  the  letters. 
Her  Sexi,  and  Blisperh.  In  the  third,  too,  are  the  names, 
Pencrest,  Bantomp,  Pinepegn.  In  the  fourth.  Bate,  Pulfred, 
and  Eanfled.  In  the  fifth,  wliich  is  the  lowest,  there  is  an 
image,  and  the  words  as  follow,  Logor,  Peslicas,  and  Breg- 
den,  Spelpes,  Highingendes  Beam.  The .  other  pyramid  is 
twenty-six  feet  high  and  has  four  stories,  in  which  are  read, 
Kentwin,  Hedda  the  bishop,  and  Bregored  and  Beorward. 
The  meaning  of  these  I  do  not  hastily  decide,  but  I  shrewdly 
conjecture  that  within,  in  stone  coffins,  are  contained  the 

by  handling  hot  iron,  plunging  the  arm  into  hot  water,  throwing  the  accused 
into  water,  &c.  If,  after  three  days,  the  party  exhibited  no  mark  of 
burning  in  the  two  former  ;  or  if  he  did  not  sink  in  the  latter  experiment, 
he  was  considered  innocent.  The  whole  was  conducted  with  great  solem- 
nity ;  the  ritual  may  be  seen  in  Spelman,  voce  Ordalium. 

24  WILLIA3I   OP    aiALMESBUnr.  [B.  I.  c.  2. 

bones  of  those  persons  whose  names  are  inscribed  without.* 
At  least  Logor  is  said  to  imply  the  person  from  whom  Log- 
peresbeorh  formerly  took  its  name,  which  is  now  called  Mon- 
tacute;  Bregden,  from  whom  is  derived  Brentknolle  and 
Brentmarsh;  Bregored  and  Beorward  were  abbats  of  that 
place  in  the  time  of  the  Britons ;  of  whom,  and  of  others 
which  occur,  I  shall  henceforward  speak  more  circumstan- 
tially. For  my  history  will  now  proceed  to  disclose  the  suc- 
cession of  abbats,  and  what  was  bestowed  on  each,  or  on  the 
monastery,  and  by  what  particular  king. 

And  first,  I  shall  briefly  mention  St.  Patrick,  from  whom 
the  series  of  our  records  dawns.  While  the  Saxons  were 
disturbing  the  peace  of  the  Britons,  and  the  Pelagians  as- 
saulting their  faith,  St.  Germanus  of  Auxerre  assisted  them 
against  both;  routing  the  one  by  the  chorus  of  Hallelujah,'!' 
and  hurling  down  the  other  by  the  thunder  of  the  Evan- 
gelists and  Apostles.  Thence  returning  to  his  own  country, 
he  summoned  Patrick  to  become  his  inmate,  and  after  a  few 
years,  sent  him,  at  the  instance  of  Pope  Celestine,  to  preach 
to  the  Irish.  Whence  it  is  written  in  the  Chronicles,  "In 
the  year  of  our  Lord's  incarnation  425,  St.  Patrick  is  or- 
dained to  L-eland  by  Pope  Celestine."  Also,  "In  the  year 
433  Ireland  is  converted  to  the  faith  of  Chi'ist  by  the  preach- 
ing of  St.  Patrick,  accompanied  by  many  miracles."  In  con- 
sequence executing  his  appointed  office  with  diligence,  and  in 
his  latter  days  returning  to  his  own  country,  he  landed  in 
Cornwall,  from  his  altar,  J  which  even  to  tliis  time  is  held  in 
high  veneration  by  the  inhabitants  for  its  sanctity  and  effi- 
cacy in  restoring  the  infirm.  Proceeding  to  Glastonbury, 
and  there  becoming  monk,  and  abbat,  after  some  years  he 
paid  the  debt  of  nature.      All  doubt  of  the  truth  of  this 

*  The  Saxon  mode  of  interment  appears  frequently  to  have  been  under 
jpyramids  or  obelisks.     See  Anglia  Sacra,  ii.  110. 

f  St.  Germanus  drew  up  a  body  of  his  new  converts  in  a  valley  surrounded 
on  every  side  by  mountains,  and,  on  the  approach  of  their  enemies,  ordered 
that  on  a  given  signal,  all  should  shout  "  Hallelujah."  The  sudden  sound, 
being  reverberated  by  the  surrounding  mountains,  struck  their  foes  with 
such  a  panic,  that  they  instantly  fled.     See  Bede,  Hist.  Eccl.  b.  i.  c.  20. 

X  Patrick  is  said  to  have  floated  over,  from  Ireland,  on  this  altar,  and  to 
have  landed  near  Padstow  in  Cornwall.  Gough's  Camden,  i.  19.  Malmes- 
bury  appears  to  have  been  misled  by  the  Glastonbury  historian,  so  as  to  con- 
found St.  Patrick  with  St.  Petrock.  From  the  latter,  the  town  of  Padstow  de- 
rives its  name,  as  is  proved  by  Whitaker,  in  his  Ancient  Cathedral  of  Cornwall. 

A. D.  425— 474.]  DEATH   OF    ST.    PATEICK.  25 

assertion  is  removed  by  the  vision  of  a  certain  brother,  who, 
after  the  saint's  death,  when  it  had  frequently  become  a 
question,  through  decay  of  evidence,  whether  he  really  was 
monk  and  abbat  there,  had  the  fact  confirmed  by  the  follow- 
ing oracle.  When  asleep  he  seemed  to  hear  some  person 
reading,  after  many  of  his  miracles,  the  words  which  follow 
— "  this  man  then  was  adorned  by  the  sanctity  of  the  metro- 
politan pall,  but  afterwards  was  here  made  monk  and  abbat." 
He  added,  moreover,  as  the  brother  did  not  give  implicit 
credit  to  him,  that  he  could  show  what  he  had  said  inscribed 
in  golden  letters.  Patrick  died  in  the  year  of  his  age  111, 
of  our  Lord's  incarnation  472,  being  the  forty-seventh  year 
after  he  was  sent  into  Ii-eland.  He  lies  on  the  right  side  of 
the  altar  in  the  old  church :  indeed  the  care  of  posterity  has 
enshrined  his  body  in  silver.  Hence  the  Msh  have  an  an- 
cient usage  of  frequenting  the  place  to  kiss  the  rehcs  of  their 
patron.  Wherefore  the  report  is  extremely  prevalent  that 
both  St.  Indract  and  St.  Briget,  no  mean  inhabitants  of 
Ireland,  formerly  came  over  to  this  spot.  Whether  Briget 
returned  home  or  died  at  Glastonbury  is  not  sufficiently 
ascertained,  though  she  left  here  some  of  her  ornaments; 
that  is  to  say,  her  necklace,  scrip,  and  implements  for  em- 
broidering, which  are  yet  shown  in  memory  of  her  sanctity, 
and  are  efficacious  in  curing  divers  diseases.  In  the  course 
of  my  narrative  it  will  appear  that  St.  Indract,  with  seven 
companions,  was  martyi-ed  near  Glastonbury,  and  afterwards 
interred  in  the  old  church.* 

Benignus  succeeded  Patrick  in  the  government  of  the 
abbey ;  but  for  how  long,  remains  in  doubt.  Who  he  was, 
and  how  called  in  the  vernacular  tongue,  the  verses  of  his 
epitaph  at  Ferramere  express,  not  inaptly  : 

Beneath  this  marble  Beon's  ashes  lie, 
Once  rev'rend  abbat  of  this  monastery : 
Saint  Patrick's  servant,  as  the  Irish  frarae 
The  legend-tale,  and  Beon  was  his  name. 

The  wonderful  works  both  of  his  former  life,  and  since  his 
recent  translation  into  the  greater  church,  proclaim  the  sin- 

*  On  their  return  from  a  pilgrimage  to  Rome  they  designed  visiting 
Glastonbury,  out  of  respect  to  St.  Patrick;  and  filled  their  scrips  with 
parsley  and  various  other  seeds,  which  they  purposed  carrying  to  Ire- 
land, but  their  staves  being  tipped  with  brass,  which  was  mistaken  for  gold, 
they  were  murdered  for  the  supposed  booty. 

26  WILLIAM:  OF  MAiMESBURT.  [b.  i-  c  2. 

gular  grace  of  God  wHcli  lie  anciently  possessed,  and  wluch 
he  still  retains. 

The  esteem  in  which  David,  archbishop  of  Menevia,  held 
this  place,  is  too  notorious  to  require  repeating.  He  esta- 
blished the  antiquity  and  sanctity  of  the  church  by  a  divine 
oracle  ;  for  purposing  to  dedicate  it,  he  came  to  the  spot  with 
his- seven  suffragan  bishops,  and  every  thing  being  prepared 
for  the  due  celebration  of  the  solemnity,  on  the  night,  as  he 
purposed,  preceding  it,  he  gave  way  to  profound  repose. 
When  all  his  senses  were  steeped  in  rest,  he  beheld  the  Lord 
Jesus  standing  near,  and  mildly  inquiring  the  cause  of  his 
arrival ;  and  on  his  immediately  disclosing  it,  the  Lord  di- 
verted him  from  his  purpose  by  sayings  "  That  the  church 
had  been  already  dedicated  by  himself  in  honour  of  his  Mo- 
ther, and  that  the  ceremony  was  not  to  be  profaned  by  hu- 
man repetition."  With  these  words  he  seemed  to  bore  the 
palm  of  his  hand  with  Ms  finger,  adding,  "  That  this  was  a 
sign  for  him  not  to  reiterate  what  liimself  had  done  before. 
But  that,  since  his  design  savoured  more  of  piety  than  of 
temerity,  his  punishment  should  not  be  prolonged :  and 
lastly,  that  on  the  following  morning,  when  he  should  repeat 
the  words  of  the  mass,  '  With  him,  and  by  him,  and  in  liim,' 
his  health  should  return  to  him  undiminished."  The  prelate, 
awakened  by  these  terrific  appearances,  as  at  the  moment  he 
grew  pale  at  the  purulent  matter,  so  afterwards  he  hailed  the 
truth  of  the  prediction.  But  that  he  might  not  appear  to 
have  done  nothing,  he  quickly  built  and  dedicated  another 
church.  Of  this  celebrated  and  incomparable  man,  I  am  at 
a  loss  to  decide,  whether  he  closed  his  hfe  in  this  place,  or  at 
his  own  cathedral.  For  they  affirm  that  he  is  with  St.  Pa- 
trick ;  and  the  Welsh,  both  by  the  frequency  of  their  prayers 
to  him  and  by  various  reports,  without  doubt  confirm  and 
estabUsh  this  opinion  ;  openly  alleging  that  bishop  Bernard 
sought  after  him  more  than  once,  notwithstanding  much 
opposition,  but  was  not  able  to  find  him.  But  let  thus  much 
suffice  of  St.  David. 

After  a  long  lapse  of  time,  St.  Augustine,  at  the  instance 
of  St.  Gregory,  came  into  Britain  in  the  year  of  our  Lord's 
incarnation  596,  and  the  tradition  of  our  ancestors  has 
handed  down,  that  the  companion  of  liis  labours,  Paulinus, 
who  was   bishop    of   Eochester  after  being  archbishop   of 

A.D.  59C-692.]  GRANTS   TO   GLASTONBUHT.  27 

York,  covered  the  church,  built,  as  we  have  before  observed, 
of  wattle-work,  with  a  casing  of  boards.  The  dexterity 
of  this  celebrated  man  so  artfully  managed,  that  nothing  of 
its  sanctity  should  be  lost,  though  much  should  accrue  to  its 
"beauty  :  and  certainly  the  more  magnificent  the  ornaments  of 
churches  are,  the  more  they  incline  the  brute  mind  to  prayer, 
and  bend  the  stubborn  to  supplication. 

In  the  year  of  our  Lord's  incarnation  601,  that  is,  the  fifth 
after  the  arrival  of  St.  Augustine,  the  king  of  Devonshire,  on 
the  petition  of  abbat  Worgrez,  granted  to  the  old  church 
which  is  there  situated  the  land  called  Ineswitrin,  containing 
five  cassates.*  "I,  Maworn,  bishop,  wrote  this  grant.  I, 
"Worgrez,  abbat  of  the  same  place,  signed  it." 

Who  this  king  might  be,  the  antiquity  of  the  instrument 
prevents  our  knowing.  But  that  he  was  a  Briton  cannot  be 
doubted,  because  he  called  Glastonbury,  Ineswitrin,  in  his 
vernacular  tongue ;  and  that,  in  the  British,  it  is  so  called,  is 
well  known.  Moreover  it  is  proper  to  remark  the  extreme 
antiquity  of  a  church,  which,  even  then,  was  called  "  the  old 
church."  In  addition  to  Worgrez,  Lademund  and  Bregored, 
whose  very  names  imply  British  barbarism,  were  abbats  of 
this  place.  The  periods  of  their  presiding  are  uncertain,  but 
their  names  and  dignities  are  indicated  by  a  painting  in  the 
larger  church,  near  the  altar.  Blessed,  therefore,  are  the 
inhabitants  of  this  place,  allured  to  uprightness  of  life,  by 
reverence  for  such  a  sanctuary.  I  cannot  suppose  that  any 
of  these,  when  dead,  can  fail  of  heaven,  when  assisted  by 
the  virtues  and  intercession  of  so  many  patrons.  In  the 
year  of  our  Lord's  incarnation  670,  and  the  29th  of  his 
reign,  Kenwalk  gave  to  Berthwald,  abbat  of  Glastonbury, 
Ferramere,  two  hides,  at  the  request  of  archbishop  Theo- 
dore. The  same  Berthwald,  against  the  will  of  the  king 
and  of  the  bishop  of  the  diocese,  relinquishing  Glastonbury, 
went  to  govern  the  monastery  of  Reculver.  In  consequence, 
Berthwald  equally  renowned  for  piety  and  high  birth,  being 
nephew  to  EtheLred,  king  of  the  Mercians,  and  residing  in 
the  vicinity  of  Canterbury,  on  the  demise  of  archbishop 
Theodore,  succeeded  to  his  see.  This  may  be  sufiicient  for 
me  to  have  inserted  on  the  antiquity  of  the  church  of  Glas- 

♦  It  is  understood  as  synonymous  ■w'ith  hide,  or  as  much  land  as  one 
plough  could  till. 

28  WILLIAM   OF    jMALMESBURT.  [».  x.  c.  2. 

tonburj.  Now  I  shall  return  in  course  to  Kenwalk,  who 
was  of  a  character  so  munificent  that  he  never  refused  to 
give  any  part  of  his  patrimony  to  his  relations ;  'but  with 
noble-minded  generosity  conferred  nearly  the  third  of  his 
kingdom  on  liis  nephew.*  These  qualities  of  the  royal 
mind,  were  stimulated  by  the  admonitions  of  those  holy 
bishops  of  his  province,  A  gilbert,  of  whom  Bede  relates 
many  commendable  things  in  his  history  of  the  Angles,  and 
his  nephew  Leutherius,  who,  after  him,  was,  for  seven  years, 
bishop  of  the  West  Saxons.  This  circumstance  I  have 
thought  proper  to  mention,  because  Bede  has  left  no  account 
of  the  duration  of  his  episcopacy,  and  to  disguise  a  fact 
which  I  learn  from  the  Chronicles,  would  be  against  my 
conscience;  besides,  it  affords  an  opportunity  for  making 
mention  of  a  distinguished  man,  who  by  a  mind,  clear,  and 
almost  divinely  inspired,  advanced  the  monastery  of  Malmes- 
bury,  where  I  carry  on  my  earthly  warfare,  to  the  highest 
jDitch.  This  monastery  was  so  slenderly  endowed  by  Mail- 
dulph,  a  Scot,  as  they  say,  by  nation,  a  philosoj)her  by  eru- 
dition, and  a  monk  by  profession,  that  its  members  could 
scarcely  procure  their  daily  subsistence;  but  Leutherius, 
after  long  and  due  deliberation,  gave  it  to  Aldhelm,f  a  monk 
of  the  same  place,  to  be  by  him  governed  with  the  authority 
then  possessed  by  bishops.  Of  which  matter,  that  my  rela- 
tion may  obviate  every  doubt,  I  shall  subjoin  his  own  words. 
"I,  Leutherius,  by  divine  permission,  bishop  supreme  of 
the  Saxon  see,  am  requested  by  the  abbats  who,  within  the 
jurisdiction  of  our  diocese,  preside  over  the  conventual  as- 
semblies of  monks  with  pastoral  anxiety,  to  give  and  to 
grant  that  portion  of  land  called  Maildulfesburgh,  to  Aid- 
helm  the  priest,  for  the  purpose  of  leading  a  life  according 
to  strict  rule;  in  which  place,  indeed,  from  his  earliest  in- 
fancy and  first  initiation  in  the  study  of  learning,  he  has 
been  instructed  in  the  liberal  arts,  and  passed  his  days,  nur- 
tured in  the  bosom  of  the  holy  mother  church ;  and  on  which 
account  fraternal  love  appears  princij^ally  to  have  conceived 
this  request.  Wherefore  assenting  to  the  petition  of  the 
aforesaid  abbats,  I  Avillingly  grant  that  place  to  him  and  his 
successors,  who  shall  sedulously  follow  the  laws  of  the  holy 

*  Cuthred.     According  to  the  Saxon   Chronicle,  he  bestowed  on  him 
3000  hides  of  land,      f  Bede,  in  "  Chronicles  of  the  Anglo-Saxons/'  p.  267. 

A.D.  670.]  PIETY   OF   ALDHELM.  29 

institution.  Done  publicly  near  the  river  Bladon;*  this 
eighth  before  the  kalends  of  Sei)tember,  in  the  year  of  our 
Lord's  incarnation  672." 

But  when  the  industry  of  the  abbat  was  superadded  to 
the  kindness  of  the  bishop,  then  the  afiairs  of  the  monastery 
began  to  flourish  exceedingly ;  then  monks  assembled  on  all 
sides;  there  was  a  general  concourse  to  Aldhelm;  some  ad- 
miring the  sanctity  of  his  life,  others  the  depth  of  liis  learn- 
ing. For  he  was  a  man  as  unsophisticated  in  religion  as 
multifarious  in  knowledge ;  whose  piety  surpassed  even  his 
reputation ;  and  he  had  so  fully  imbibed  the  liberal  arts,  that 
he  was  wonderful  in  each  of  them,  and  unrivalled  in  all.  I 
greatly  err,  if  his  works  written  on  the  subject  of  virginity,! 
than  which,  in  my  opinion,  nothing  can  be  more  pleasing  or 
more  splendid,  are  not  proofs  of  his  immortal  genius  :  al- 
though, such  is  the  slothfulness  of  our  times,  they  may 
excite  disgust  in  some  persons,  not  duly  considering  how 
modes  of  expression  diiFer  according  to  the  customs  of 
nations.  The  Greeks,  for  instance,  express  themselves  im- 
pliedly, the  Romans  clearly,  the  Gauls  gorgeously,  the 
Angles  turgidly.  And  truly,  as  it  is  pleasant  to  dwell  on 
the  graces  of  our  ancestors  and  to  animate  our  minds  by 
their  example,  I  would  here,  most  willingly,  unfold  what 
painful  labours  this  holy  man  encountered  for  the  privileges 
of  our  church,  and  with  what  miracles  he  signalized  his  life, 
did  not  my  avocations  lead  me  elsewhere ;  and  his  noble  acts 
appear  clearer  even  to  the  eye  of  the  purblind,  than  they 
can  possibly  be  sketched  by  my  pencil.  The  innumerable 
miracles  which  now  take  place  at  his  tomb,  manifest  to  the 
present  race  the  sanctity  of  the  life  he  passed.  He  has 
therefore  his  proper  praise;  he  has  the  fame  acquired  by 
his  merits.  J     We  proceed  with  the  history. 

*  Where  this  river  was  is  not  known ;  it  has  been  conjectured  it  should 
he  Avon.     Malmesbury  is  also  said  to  have  been  originally  called  Bladon. 

+  De  Laudibus  Virginitatis.  His  "  Commendation  of  Virginity,"  was 
first  written  in  prose:  and  was  printed  by  H.  Wharton,  4to.  1693.  He 
afterwards  versified  it  with  occasional  amplifications  or  omissions.  Some 
MSS.  give  the  date  as  671:  others  672;  and  others  again  675.  See  Cani- 
sius,  Antiquae  Lectiones,  t.  i.  713.  Ed.  Basnagii.  The  whole  works  of 
Aldhelm  have  been  collected  for  the  first  time  by  the  present  editor,  and 
form  vol.  i.  of  Patres  Ecclesi^  Anglican^ 

X  Malmesbury  afterwards  wrote  the  life  of  Aldhelm.     It  ought  to  form 

30  "WILLIAM   OF   MALMESBUKT.  [b.  i.  c.  2. 

After  thirty-one  years,  Kenwalk  dying,  bequeathed  the 
administration  of  the  government  to  his  wife  Sexburga ;  nor 
did  this  woman  want  spirit  for  discharging  the  duties  of  the 
station.  She  levied  new  forces,  preserved  the  old  in  their 
duty;  ruled  her  subjects  with  moderation,  and  overawed  her 
enemies :  in  short,  she  conducted  all  tilings  in  such  a  manner, 
that  no  difference  was  discernible  except  that  of  her  sex. 
But,  breathing  more  than  female  spirit,  she  died,  having 
scarcely  reigned  a  year. 

Escwin  passed  the  next  two  years  in  the  government ;  a 
near  relation  to  the  royal  family,  being  grand-nephew  to 
Cynegils,  by  his  brother  Cuthgist.  At  his  death,  either 
natural  or  violent,  for  I  cannot  exactly  find  which,  Kentwin, 
the  son  of  Cynegils,  filled  the  vacant  throne  in  legitimate 
succession.  Both  were  men  of  noted  experience  in  war ;  as 
the  one  routed  the  Mercians,  the  other  the  Britons,  with 
dreadful  slaughter :  but  they  were  to  be  pitied  for  the  short- 
ness of  their  career;  the  reign  of  the  latter  not  extending 
beyond  nine,  that  of  the  former,  more  than  two  years,  as  I 
have  already  related.  This  is  on  the  credit  of  the  Chronicles. 
However,  Bede  records  that  they  did  not  reign  successively, 
but  divided  the  kingdom  between  them. 

Next  sprang  forth  a  noble  branch  of  the  royal  stock,  Caed- 
walla,  grand-nephew  of  Ceawlin,  by  his  brother  Cutha  :  a 
youth  of  unbounded  promise,  who  allowed  no  opportunity  of 
exercising  his  valour  to  escape  him.  He,  having  long  since, 
by  his  active  exertions,  excited  the  animosity  of  the  princes 
of  his  country,  was,  by  a  conspiracy,  driven  into  exile. 
Yielding  to  this  outrage,  as  the  means  of  depriving  the 
province  of  its  warlike  force,  he  led  away  all  the  military 
population  with  him ;  for,  whether  out  of  pity  to  his  broken 
fortunes,  or  regard  for  his  valour,  the  whole  of  the  youth 
accompanied  liim  into  exile.  Ethelwalch,  king  of  the  South 
Saxons,  hazarding  an  engagement  with  him,  felt  the  first 
effects  of  his  fury :  for  he  was  routed  with  all  the  forces  he  had 
collected,  and  too  late  repented  his  rash  design.*  The  spirits 
of  his  followers  being  thus  elated,  Csedwalla,  by  a  sudden 
and  unexpected  return,  drove  the  rivals  of  his  power  from 

the  fifth  book  "  de  Gentis  Pontificum,"  but  has  never  yet  been  printed  in 
tlie  same  volume  with  the  four  preceding  books. 
*  See  Bede,  b.  iv.  c.  15. 

A.D.  68G- 694.]  INA.  31 

the  kingdom.  Enjoying  his  government  lor  the  space  of 
two  years,  he  performed  many  signal  exploits.  His  hatred 
and  hostility  towards  the  South  Saxons  were  inextinguish- 
able, and  he  totally  destroyed  Edric,  the  successor  of  Ethel- 
walch,  who  opposed  him  with  renovated  boldness :  he  nearly 
depopulated  the  Isle  of  Wight,  which  had  rebelled  in  con- 
federacy with  the  Mercians :  he  also  gained  repeated  victories 
over  the  people  of  Kent,  as  I  have  mentioned  before  in  their 
history.  Finally,  as  is  observed  above,  he  retired  from  that 
province,  on  the  death  of  his  brother,  compensating  his  loss 
by  the  blood  of  many  of  its  inhabitants.  It  is  difficult  to 
relate,  how  extremely  pious  he  was  even  before  his  baptism, 
insomuch  that  he  dedicated  to  God  the  tenth  of  all  the  spoils 
which  he  had  acquired  in  war.  In  which,  though  we  ap- 
prove the  intention,  we  condemn  the  example ;  according  to 
the  saying :  "  He  who  offers  sacrifice  from  the  substance  of 
a  poor  man,  is  like  him  who  immolates  the  son  in  the  sight 
of  the  father."  That  he  went  to  Rome  to  be  baptized  by 
Pope  Sergius,  and  was  called  Peter;  and  that  he  yielded 
joj'fully  to  the  will  of  heaven,  while  yet  in  his  initiatory 
robes,  are  matters  too  well  knovm  to  require  our  illustration. 
After  his  departure  to  Rome,  the  government  was  assumed 
by  Ina,  grand-nephew  of  Cynegils  by  liis  brother  Cuthbald, 
who  ascended  the  throne,  more  from  the  innate  activity  of 
his  spirit,  than  any  legitimate  right  of  succession.  He  was 
a  rare  example  of  fortitude  ;  a  mirror  of  prudence  ;  un- 
equalled in  piety.  Thus  regulating  his  life,  he  gained  favour 
at  home  and  respect  abroad.  Safe  from  any  apprehensions 
of  treachery,  he  grew  old  in  the  discharge  of  his  duties  for 
fifty-eight  years,  the  pious  conciliator  of  general  esteem. 
His  first  expedition  was  against  the  people  of  Kent,  as  the 
indignation  at  their  burning  MoU  had  not  yet  subsided. 
The  inhabitants  resisted  awliile  :  but  soon  finding  aU  their 
attempts  and  endeavours  fail,  and  seeing  nothing  in  the  dis- 
position of  Ina  which  could  lead  them  to  suppose  he  would 
remit  his  exertions,  they  were  induced,  by  the  contemplation 
of  their  losses,  to  treat  of  a  surrender.  They  tempt  the 
royal  mind  with  presents,  lure  him  with  promises,  and 
bargain  for  a  peace  for  thirty  thousand  marks  of  gold,  that, 
softened  by  so  high  a  price,  he  should  put  an  end  to  the 
war,  and,  bound  in  golden  chains,  sound  a  retreat.     Accept- 

32  "WILLIAM   OF    MALMESBURT.  Lb.  i.  c.  2. 

ing  the  money,  as  a  sufficient  atonement  for  their  offence,  he 
returned  into  his  kingdom.  And  not  only  the  people  of 
Kent,  but  the  East  Angles*  also  felt  the  effects  of  his  here- 
ditary anger  ;  all  their  nobility  being  first  expelled,  and 
afterwards  routed  in  battle.  But  let  the  relation  of  his  mili- 
tary successes  here  find  a  termination.  Moreover  how  sedu- 
lous he  was  in  religious  matters,  the  laws  he  enacted  to  re- 
form the  manners  of  the  people,  are  proof  sufficient  ;t  in 
which  the  image  of  his  purity  is  reflected  even  upon  the 
present  times.  Another  proof  are  the  monasteries  nobly 
founded  at  the  king's  expense.  But|  more  especially  Glas- 
tonbury, whither  he  ordered  the  bodies  of  the  blessed  martyr, 
Indract,  and  of  his  associates,  to  be  taken  from  the  place  of 
their  martyrdom  and  to  be  conveyed  into  the  church.  The 
body  of  St.  Indract  he  deposited  in  the  stone  pyramid  on 
the  left  side  of  the  altar,  where  the  zeal  of  posterity  after- 
wards also  placed  St.  Hilda  :  the  others  were  distributed 
beneath  the  pavement  as  chance  directed  or  regard  might 
suggest.  Here,  too,  he  erected  a  church,  dedicated  to  the 
holy  apostles,  as  an  appendage  to  the  ancient  church,  of  which 
we  are  speaking,  enriched  it  with  vast  possessions,  and 
granted  it  a  privilege  to  the  following  effect : 

"  In  the  name  of  our  Lord  Jesus  Christ  :  I,  Ina,  sup- 
ported in  my  royal  dignity  by  God,  with  the  advice  of  my 
queen,  Sexburga,  and  the  permission  of  Berthwald,  archbishop 
of  Canterbury,  and  of  all  his  suffragans  ;  and  also  at  the  in- 
stance of  the  princes  Baltred  and  Athelard,  to  the  ancient 
church,  situate  in  the  place  called  Glastonbury  (which  church 
the  great  high-priest  and  chiefest  minister  formerly  through 
his  own  ministry,  and  that  of  angels,  sanctified  by  many  and 
unheard-of  miracles  to  himself  and  the  eternal  Virgin  Mary, 
as  was  formerly  revealed  to  St.  David,)  do  grant  out  of  those 

*  The  Saxon  Chronicle  and  Florence  of  Worcester  mention  his  attacks 
on  the  South  Saxons,  but  do  not  notice  the  East  Angles. 

+  See  Wilkins's  Leges  Anglo-Saxonicse. 

J  Some  manuscripts  omit  all  that  follows  to  "  Berthwald,  archbishop  of 
Canterbury,"  p,  35,  and  insert  in  place  of  it  "  More  especially  that  at  Glas- 
tonbury most  celebrated  in  our  days,  which  he  erected  in  a  low  retired 
situation,  in  order  that  the  monks  might  more  eagerly  thirst  after  heavenly, 
in  proportion  as  they  were  less  affected  by  earthly  things."  Sharpe  in- 
serts the  shorter  passage  in  his  text,  and  gives  the  longer  in  a  note. 

A.D.725.J  INA's   grants.  S3 

places,  which  I  possess  bj  paternal  inheritance,  and  hold 
in  my  demesne,  they  being  adjacent  and  fitting  for  the  pur- 
pose, for  the  maintenance  of  the  monastic  institution,  and  the 
use  of  the  monks,  Brente  ten  hides,  Sowy  ten  hides,  Pilton 
twenty  hides,  Dulting  twenty  hides,  Bledenhida  one  hide, 
together  with  whatever  my  predecessors  have  contributed  to 
the  same  church  :*  to  wit,  Kenwalk,  who,  at  the  instance  of 
archbishop  Theodore,  gave  Ferramere,  Bregarai,  Coneneie, 
Martineseie,  Etheredseie  ;  Kentwin,  who  used  to  call  Glaston- 
bury, "  the  mother  of  saints,"  and  liberated  it  from  every 
secular  and  ecclesiastical  service,  and  granted  it  this  dignified 
privilege,  that  the  brethren  of  that  place  should  have  the  power 
of  electing  and  appointing  their  ruler  according  to  the  rule  of 
St.  Benedict :  Hedda  the  bishop,  with  permission  of  Caedwalla, 
who,  though  a  heathen,  confirmed  it  with  his  own  hand,  gave 
Lantokay  :  Baltred,  who  gave  Pennard,  six  hides  :  Athelard 
who  contributed  Poelt,  sixty  hides  ;  I,  Ina,  permitting  and 
confirming  it.  To  the  piety  and  affectionate  entreaty  of  these 
people  I  assent,  and  I  guard  by  the  security  of  my  royal  grant 
against  the  designs  of  malignant  men  and  snarling  curs,  in 
order  that  the  church  of  our  Lord  Jesus  Christ  and  the  eternal 
Virgin  Mary,  as  it  is  the  first  in  the  kingdom  of  Britain  and 
the  source  and  the  fountain  of  all  religion,  may  obtain  sur- 
passing dignity  and  privilege,  and,  as  she  rules  over  choirs  of 
angels  in  heaven,  it  may  never  pay  servile  obedience  to  men 
on  earth.  Wherefore  the  chief  pontiff,  Gregory,  assenting, 
and  taking  the  mother  of  his  Lord,  and  me,  however  un- 
worthy, together  with  her,  into  the  bosom  and  protection  of 
the  holy  Roman  church  ;  and  all  the  princes,  archbishops, 
bishops,  dukes,  and  abbats  of  Britain  consenting,  I  appoint 
and  establish,  that,  all  lands,  places,  and  possessions  of  St. 
Mary  of  Glastonbury  be  free,  quiet,  and  undisturbed,  from  all 
royal  taxes  and  works,  which  are  wont  to  be  appointed,  that 
is  to  say,  expeditions,  the  building  of  bridges  or  forts,  and 
from  the  edicts  or  molestations  of  all  archbishops  or  bishops, 
as  is  found  to  be  confirmed  and  granted  by  my  predecessors, 
Kenwalk,  Kentwin,  Csedwalla,  Baltred,  in  the  ancient  charters 
of  the  same  church.  And  whatsoever  questions  shall  arise, 
whether  of  homicide,  sacrilege,  poison,  theft,  rapine,  the  dis- 

*  See  Kemble's  Charters,  vol.  i.  p.  85. 

34  WILLIAM   OF   MALMESBURY.  [b.i  c.2. 

posal  and  limits  of  churches,  the  ordination  of  clerks,  eccle- 
siastical synods,  and  all  judicial  inquiries,  they  shall  be  deter- 
mined by  the  decision  of  the  abbat  and  convent,  without  the 
interference  of  any  person  whatsoever.  Moreover,  I  command 
all  princes,  archbishops,  bishops,  dukes,  and  governors  of  my 
kingdom,  as  they  tender  my  honour  and  regard,  and  all  de- 
pendants, mine  as  well  as  theirs,  as  they  value  their  personal 
safety,  never  to  dare  enter  the  island  of  our  Lord  Jesus 
Christ  and  of  the  eternal  Virgin,  at  Glastonbury,  nor  the 
possessions  of  the  said  church,  for  the  purpose  of  holding 
courts,  making  inquiry,  or  seizing,  or  doing  anything  what- 
ever to  the  offence  of  the  servants  of  God  there  residing  : 
moreover  I  particularly  inhibit,  by  the  curse  of  Almighty 
God,  of  the  eternal  Virgin  Mary,  and  of  the  holy  apostles 
Peter  and  Paul,  and  of  the  rest  of  the  saints,  any  bishop  on 
any  account  whatever  from  presuming  to  take  his  episcopal 
seat  or  celebrate  divine  service  or  consecrate  altars,  or  dedi- 
cate churches,  or  ordain,  or  do  any  thing  whatever,  either  in 
the  church  of  Glastonbury  itself,  or  its  dependent  churches, 
that  is  to  say — Sowy,  Brente,  Merlinch,  Sapewic,  Stret, 
Sbudeclalech,  Pilton,  or  in  their  chapels,  or  islands,  unless  he 
be  specially  invited  by  the  abbat  or  brethren  of  that  place. 
But  if  he  come  upon  such  invitation,  he  shall  take  nothing 
to  himself  of  the  things  of  the  church,  nor  of  the  offerings  ; 
knowing  that  he  has  two  mansions  appointed  him  in  two 
several  places  out  of  this  church's  possessions,  one  in  Pilton, 
the  other  in  the  village  called  Poelt,  that,  when  coming  or 
going,  he  may  have  a  place  of  entertainment.  Nor  even 
shall  it  be  lawful  for  him  to  pass  the  night  here  unless  he 
shall  be  detained  by  stress  of  weather  or  bodily  sickness,  or 
invited  by  the  abbat  or  monks,  and  then  with  not  more  than 
three  or  four  clerks.  Moreover  let  the  aforesaid  bishop  be 
mindful  every  year,  with  his  clerks  that  are  at  Wells,  to 
acknowledge  his  mother  church  of  Glastonbury  with  litanies 
on  the  second  day  after  our  Lord's  ascension  ;  and  should  he 
haughtily  defer  it,  or  fail  in  the  things  which  are  above  re- 
cited and  confirmed,  he  shall  forfeit  his  mansions  above  men- 
tioned. The  abbat  or  monks  shall  direct  whom  they  please, 
celebrating  Easter  canonically,  to  perform  service  in  the 
church  of  Glastonbury,  its  dependent  churches,  and  in  their 
chapels.     Whosoever,  be  he  of  what  dignity,  profession,  or 

A.D.  709.]  ENDOWMENT   OF    GLASTONBURY.  35 

degree,  he  may,  shall  hereafter,  on  any  occasion  whatsoever, 
attempt  to  pervert,  or  nullify  this,  the  witness  of  my  munifi- 
cence and  liberality,  let  him  be  aware  that,  with  the  traitor 
Judas,  he  shall  perish,  to  his  eternal  confusion,  in  the  de- 
vouring flames  of  unspeakable  torments.     The  charter    of 
this  donation  was  written  in  the  year  of  our  Lord's  incarna- 
tion 725,  the  fourteenth  of  the  indiction,  in  the  presence  of 
the  king  Ina,  and  of  Berthwald,  archbishop  of  Canterbury." 
What  splendour  he  [Ina]  added  to  the  monastery,  may  be 
collected  from  the  short  treatise  which  I  have  written  about 
its  antiquities.*     Father  Aldhelm  assisted  the  design,  and 
his  precepts  were  heard  with  humility,  nobly  adopted,  and 
joyfully  carried  into    effect.     Lastly,  the  king  readily  con- 
firmed the  privilege  which  Aldhelm  had  obtained  from  pope 
Sergius,  for  the  immunity  of  his  monasteries  ;  gave  much  to 
the  servants  of  God  by  his  advice,  and  finally  honoured  him, 
though  constantly  refusing,  with  a  bishopric  ;  but  an  early 
death  malignantly  cut  off  this  great  man  from  the  world. 
For  scarcely  had  he  discharged  the  offices  of  his  bishopric 
four  years,  ere  he  made  his  soul  an  offering  to  heaven,  in 
the  year  of  our  Lord's  incarnation  709,  on  the  vigil  of  St. 
Augustine  the  apostle  of  the  Angles,  namely  the  eighth  be- 
fore the  Kalends  of  June."]"     Some  say,  that  he  was   the 
nephew  of  the  king,   by  his  brother  Kenten  ;  but  I  do  not 
choose  to  assert  for  truth  any  thing  which  savours  more  of 
vague  opinion,  than  of  historic  credibility  ;  especially  as  I 
can  find  no  ancient  record  of  it,  and  the  Chronicle  clearly  de- 
clares, that  Ina  had  no  other  brother  than  Ingild,  who  died 
some  few  years  before  him.     Aldhelm  needs  no  support  from 
fiction  :  such  great  things  are  there  concerning  him  of  indis- 
putable truth,  so  many  which  are  beyond  the  reach  of  doubt. 
The  sisters,  indeed,  of  Ina  were  Cuthburga  and  Cwenburga. 
Cuthburga  was  given  in  marriage  to    Alfrid,  king  of  the 
Northumbrians,  but  the  contract  being  soon  after  dissolved, 
she  led  a  life  dedicated  to  God,  first  at  Barking,{  under  the 
abbess  Hildelitha,  and  afterwards  as  superior  of  the  convent 
at  Wimborue  ;  now  a  mean  village,  but  formerly  celebrated 

•  The  Antiquities  of  Glastonbury  were  publislied  about  the  same  time 
by  Gale,  vol.  Hi.  and  by  Heame. 

t  The  25th  of  May.  $  Bede,  Eccl.  Hist.  b.  iv.  c.  7-10. 

-36  -WILLIAM   OF   MALMESBUKT.  [b.i.  c.2. 

for  containing  a  full  company  of  virgins,  dead  to  earthly 
desires,  and  breathing  only  aspirations  towards  heaven. 
She  embraced  the  profession  of  holy  celibacy  from  the  peru- 
sal of  Aldhelm's  books  on  virginity,  dedicated  indeed  to  the 
sisterhood  of  Barking,  but  profitable  to  all,  who  aspire  to 
that  state.  Ina's  queen  was  Ethelburga,  a  woman  of  royal 
race  and  disposition  :  who  perpetually  urging  the  necessity 
of  bidding  adieu,  to  earthly  things,  at  least  in  the  close  of 
life,  and  the  king  as  constantly  deferring  the  execution  of 
her  advice,  at  last  endeavoured  to  overcome  him  by  strata- 
gem. For,  on  a  certain  occasion,  when  they  had  been 
revelling  at  a  country  seat  with  more  than  usual  riot  and 
luxury,  the  next  day,  after  their  departure,  an  attendant, 
with  the  privity  of  the  queen,  defiled  the  palace  in  every 
possible  manner,  both  with  the  excrement  of  cattle  and  heaps 
of  filth  ;  and  lastly  he  put  a  sow,  which  had  recently  far- 
rowed, in  the  very  bed  where  they  had  lain.  They  had 
hardly  proceeded  a  mile,  ere  she  attacked  her  husband  with 
the  fondest  conjugal  endearments,  entreating  that  they  might 
immediately  return  tliither,  whence  they  had  departed,  say- 
ing, that  his  denial  would  be  attended  with  dangerous  con- 
sequences. Her  petition  being  readily  granted,  the  king  was 
astonished  at  seeing  a  place,  which  yesterday  might  have 
vied  with  Assyrian  luxury,  now  filthily  disgusting  and  deso- 
late :  and  silently  pondering  on  the  sight,  his  eyes  at  length 
turned  upon  the  queen.  Seizing  the  opportunity,  and  plea- 
santly smiling,  she  said,  "  My  noble  spouse,  where  are  the 
revellings  of  yesterday  ?  Where  the  tapestries  dipped  in 
Sidonian  dyes  ?  Where  the  ceaseless  impertinence  of  para- 
sites ?  Where  the  sculptured  vessels,  overwhelming  the  very 
tables  with  their  weight  of  gold  ?  Where  are  the  delicacies 
so  anxiously  sought  throughout  sea  and  land,  to  pamper  the 
appetite  ?  Ai^e  not  all  these  things  smoke  and  vapour  ? 
Have  they  not  all  passed  away  ?  Woe  be  to  those  who  attach 
themselves  to  such,  for  they  in  like  manner  shall  consume 
away.  Are  not  all  these  like  a  rapid  river  hastening  to  the 
sea  ?  And  woe  to  those  who  are  attached  to  them,  for  they 
shall  be  carried  away  by  the  current.  Reflect,  I  entreat  you, 
how  wretchedly  will  these  bodies  decay,  which  we  pamper 
with  such  unbounded  luxury.  Must  not  we,  who  gorge  so 
constantly,  become  more  disgustingly  putrid  ?    The  mighty 

A.D.  725-741.]  ETHELAED CUTHRED.  37 

must  undergo  mightier  torments,  and  a  severer  trial  awaits 
the  strong."  Without  saying  more,  by  this  striking  example, 
she  gained  over  her  husband  to  those  sentiments,  which  she 
had  in  vain  attempted  for  years  by  persuasion.* 

For  after  his  triumphal  spoils  in  war  ;  after  many  succes- 
sive degrees  in  virtue,  he  aspired  to  the  highest  perfection, 
and  went  to  Rome.  There,  not  to  make  the  glory  of  his 
conversion  public,  but  that  he  might  be  acceptable  in  the 
sight  of  God  alone,  he  was  shorn  in  secret ;  and,  clad  in 
homely  garb,  grew  old  in  privacy.  Nor  did  his  queen,  the 
author  of  this  noble  deed,  desert  him  ;  but  as  she  had  before 
incited  him  to  undertake  it,  so,  afterwards,  she  made  it  her 
constant  care  to  soothe  his  sorrows  by  her  conversation,  to 
stimulate  him,  when  wavering,  by  her  example  ;  in  short,  to 
omit  nothing  that  could  be  conducive  to  his  salvation.  Thus 
united  in  mutual  affection,  in  due  time  they  trod  the  common 
path  of  all  mankind.  This  was  attended,  as  we  have  heard, 
with  singular  miracles,  such  as  God  often  deigns  to  bestow- 
on  the  virtues  of  happy  couples. 

To  the  government  succeeded  Ethelard,  the  cousin  of  Ina  ; 
though  Oswald,  a  youth  of  royal  extraction,  often  obscured 
his  opening  prospects.  Exciting  his  countrymen  to  rebellion, 
he  attempted  to  make  war  on  the  king,  but  soon  after  perish- 
ing by  some  unhappy  doom,  Ethelard  kept  quiet  possession 
of  the  kingdom  for  fourteen  years,  and  then  left  it  to  his 
kinsman,  Cuthred,  who  for  an  equal  space  of  time,  and  with 
similar  courage,  was  ever  actively  employed  : — 

"  In  the  name  of  our  Lord  Jesus  Christ,  I,  Cuthred,  king 
of  the  West  Saxons,  do  hereby  declare  that  all  the  gifts  of 
former  kings — Kentwin,  Baldred,  Kedwall,  Ina,  Ethelard, 
and  Ethbald  king  of  the  Mercians,  in  country  houses,  and  in 
villages  and  lands,  and  farms,  and  mansions,  according  to  the 
confirmations  made  to  the  ancient  city  of  Glastonbury,  and 
confirmed  by  autograph  and  by  the  sign  of  the  cross,  I  do,  as 
was  before  said,  hereby  decree  that  this  grant  of  former  kings 
shall  remain  firm  and  inviolate,  as  long  as  the  revolution  of 
the  pole  shall  carry  the  lands  and  seas  with  regular  move- 

*  All  this  passage,  from  "  What  splendour,  p.  35,  to  persuasion,"  is  omit- 
ted in  some  MSS.,  and  is  given  in  a  note  by  Hardy  and  Sharpe  ;  but  it 
=  seems  almost  necessary  to  the  context. 

38  WILLIAM   OF   MALMESBURT.  [b  r.  c.  8. 

ment  round  the  starry  heavens.  But  if  any  one,  confiding 
in  tyrannical  pride  shall  endeavour  on  any  occasion  to  dis- 
turb and  nullify  this  my  testamentary  grant,  may  he  be  sepa- 
rated by  the  fan  of  the  last  judgment  from  the  congregation 
of  the  righteous,  and  joined  to  the  assembly  of  the  wicked 
for  ever,  paying  the  penalty  of  his  violence.  But  whoever 
with  benevolent  intention  shall  strive  to  approve,  confirm, 
and  defend  this  my  grant,  may  he  be  allowed  to  enjoy  un- 
faiHng  immortality  before  the  glory  of  Him  that  sitteth  on 
the  throne,  together  with  the  happy  companies  of  angels  and  of 
all  the  saints.  A  copy  of  this  grant  was  set  forth  in  presence 
of  king  Cuthred,  in  the  aforesaid  monastery,  and  dedicated 
to  the  holy  altar  by  the  munificence  of  his  own  hand,  in  the 
wooden  church,  where  the  brethren  placed  the  coffin  of  abbat 
Hemgils,  the  30th  of  April,  in  the  year  of  our  Lord  745." 

The  same  Cuthred,  after  much  toil,  made  a  successful  cam- 
paign against  Ethelbald,  king  of  Mercia,  and  the  Britons, 
and  gave  up  the  sovereignty  after  he  had  held  it  fourteen 

Sigebert  then  seized  on  the  kingdom  ;  a  man  of  inhuman 
cruelty  among  his  own  siibjects,  and  noted  for  cowardice 
abroad  ;  but  the  common  detestation  of  all  conspiring  against 
him,  he  was  within  a  year  driven  from  the  throne,  and  gave 
place  to  one  more  worthy.  Yet,  as  commonly  happens  in 
similar  cases,  the  severity  of  his  misfortunes  brought  back 
some  persons  to  liis  cause,  and  the  province  which  is  called 
Hampshire,  was,  by  their  exertions,  retained  in  subjection  to 
him.  Still,  however,  unable  to  quit  his  former  habits,  and 
exciting  the  enmity  of  all  against  him  by  the  murder  of  one 
Cumbran,  who  had  adhered  to  him  with  unshaken  fidelity, 
he  fled  to  the  recesses  of  wild  beasts.  Misfortune  still 
attending  him  thither  also,  he  was  stabbed  by  a  swineherd. 
Thus  the  cruelty  of  a  king,  which  had  almost  desolated  the 
higher  ranks,  was  put  an  end  to  by  a  man  of  the  lowest 

Cynewolf  next  undertook  the  guidance  of  the  state  ;  illus- 
trious for  the  regulation  of  his  conduct  and  liis  deeds  in  arms  : 
but  suiFering  extremely  from  the  loss  of  a  single  battle,  in  the 
the  twenty-fourth  year  of  his  reign,  against  Offa,  king  of  the 
Mercians,  near  Bensington,  he  was  also  finally  doomed  to  a 
disgraceful  death.      For   after   he   had    reigned   thirty-one 

A,p.  770-784.]  DEATH   OF    CTNEWOLF.  39 

years,*  neither  indolently  nor  oppressively,  either  elated  with 
success,  because  he  imagined  nothing  could  oppose  him,  or 
alarmed  for  his  posterity,  from  the  increasing  power  of 
Kineard,  the  brother  of  Sigebert,  he  compelled  him  to  quit 
the  kingdom.  Kineard,  deeming  it  necessary  to  yield  to  the 
emergency  of  the  times,  departed  as  if  voluntarily  ;  but  soon 
after,  when  by  secret  meetings  he  had  assembled  a  desperate 
band  of  wretches,  watching  when  the  king  might  be  alone, 
for  he  had  gone  into  the  country  for  the  sake  of  recreation, 
he  followed  him  thither  with  his  party.  And  learning  that 
he  was  there  giving  loose  to  improper  desires,  he  beset  the 
house  on  all  sides.  The  king  struck  with  his  perilous  situa- 
tion, and  holding  a  conference  with  the  persons  present,  shut 
fast  the  doors,  expecting  either  to  appease  the  desperadoes 
by  fair  language,  or  to  terrify  them  by  threats.  When 
neither  succeeded,  he  rushed  furiously  on  Kineard,  and  had 
nearly  killed  him  ;  but,  surrounded  by  the  multitude,  and 
thinking  it  derogatory  to  his  courage  to  give  way,  he  fell, 
selling  his  life  nobly.  Some  few  of  his  attendants,  who,  in- 
stead of  yielding,  attempted  to  take  vengeance  for  the  loss  of 
their  lord,  were  slain.  The  report  of  this  dreadful  outrage 
soon  reached  the  ears  of  the  nobles,  who  were  waiting  near 
at  hand.  Of  these  Esric,  the  chief  in  age  and  prudence, 
conjuring  the  rest  not  to  leave  unrevenged  the  death  of  their 
sovereign  to  their  own  signal  and  eternal  ignominy,  rushed 
with  drawn  sword  upon  the  conspirators.  At  first  Kineard 
attempted  to  argue  his  case  ;  to  make  tempting  offers  ;  to 
hold  forth  their  relationship  ;  but  when  this  availed  nothing, 
he  stimulated  his  party  to  resistance.  Doubtful  was  the  con- 
flict, where  one  side  contended  with  all  its  powers  for  life, 
the  other  for  glory.  And  victory,  wavering  for  a  long  time, 
at  last  decided  for  the  juster  cause.  Thus,  fruitlessly  valiant, 
this  unhappy  man  lost  his  life,  unable  long  to  boast  the  suc- 
cess of  his  treachery.  The  king's  body  was  buried  at  Win- 
chester, and  the  prince's  at  Repton  ;  at  that  time  a  noble 
monastery,  but  at  present,  as  I  have  heard,  with  few,  or 
scarcely  any  inmates. 

*  Malmesbury  here  perpetuates  the  error  of  the  transcriber  of  the  Saxon 
Chronicle,  in  assigning  thirty-one  years  to  Cynewolf,  for  as  he  came  to  the 
throne  in  75G,  and  was  killed  in  784,  consequently  he  reigned  about, 
twenty-nine  years.  Perhaps  he  wrote,  correctly,  "  uno  de  triginta  annis" 
conjectures  Mr.  Hardy. 

4iO  WILLIAM   OP   MALMESBUEY.  [b.  r.  c.  i. 

After  him,  for  sixteen  years,  reigned  Bertric :  more 
studious  of  peace  than  of  war.  Skilful  in  conciliating 
friendship,  affable  with  foreigners,  and  giving  great  allow- 
ances to  his  subjects,  in  those  matters  at  least  which  could 
not  impair  the  strength  of  the  government.  To  acquire  still 
greater  estimation  with  his  neighbours,  he  married  the 
daughter  of  Offa,  king  of  Mercia,  at  that  time  all-powerful ; 
by  whom,  as  far  as  I  am  acquainted,  he  had  no  issue. 
Supported  by  this  alliance  he  compelled  Egbert,  the  sole 
survivor  of  the  royal  stock,  and  whom  he  feared  as  the  most 
effectual  obstacle  to  his  power,  to  fly  into  France.  In  fact 
Bertric  himself,  and  the  other  kings,  after  Ina,  though 
glorying  in  the  splendour  of  their  parentage,  as  deriving 
their  origin  from  Cerdic,  had  considerably  deviated  from  the 
direct  line  of  the  royal  race.  On  Egbert's  expulsion,  then, 
he  had  already  begun  to  indulge  in  indolent  security,  when 
a  piratical  tribe  of  the  Danes,  accustomed  to  live  by  plunder, 
clandestinely  arriving  in  three  ships,  disturbed  the  tran- 
quilHty  of  the  kingdom.  This  band  came  over  expressly  to 
ascertain  the  fruitfulness  of  the  soil,  and  the  courage  of  the 
inhabitants,  as  was  afterwards  discovered  by  the  arrival  of 
that  multitude,  which  over-ran  almost  the  whole  of  Britain. 
Landing  then,  unexpectedly,  when  the  kingdom  was  in  a 
state  of  profound  peace,  they  seized  upon  a  royal  village, 
which  was  nearest  them,  and  killed  the  superintendent,  who 
had  advanced  with  succours ;  but  losing  their  booty,  through 
fear  of  the  people,  who  hastened  to  attack  them,  they  retired 
to  their  ships.  After  Bertric,  who  was  buried  at  Warham, 
Egbert  ascended  the  throne  of  his  ancestors  ;  justly  to  be 
preferred  to  all  the  kings  who  preceded  him.  Thus  having 
brought  down  our  narrative  to  his  times,  we  must,  as  we 
have  promised,  next  give  our  attention  to  the  Northumbrians. 

CHAP.  m. 

Of  the  kings  of  the  Northumbrians,     [a.d.  450.] 

We  have  before  related  briefly,  and  now  necessarily  repeat, 
that  Hengist,  having  settled  his  own  government  in  Kent, 
had  sent  his  brother  Otha,  and  his  son  Ebusa,  men  of 
activity  and  tried  experience,  to  seize  on  the  northern  parts 
gf  Britain.     Sedulous   in    executing   the   command,  affairs 

A.D.  450  -560.]  IDA ALL  A.  41 

succeeded  to  their  wishes.  For  frequently  coming  into  action 
with  the  inhabitants,  and  dispersing  those  who  attempted 
resistance,  they  conciliated  with  uninterrupted  quiet  such  as 
submitted.  Thus,  though  through  their  own  address  and 
the  good  will  of  their  followers,  they  had  established  a 
certain  degree  of  power,  yet  never  entertaining  an  idea  of 
assuming  the  royal  title,  they  left  an  example  of  similar 
moderation  to  their  immediate  posterity.  For  during  the 
space  of  ninety-nine  years,  the  Northumbrian  leaders, 
contented  with  subordinate  power,  Hved  in  subjection  to  the 
kings  of  Kent.  Afterwards,  however,  this  forbearance 
ceased  ;  either  because  the  human  mind  is  ever  prone  to 
degeneracy,  or  because  that  race  of  people  was  naturally 
ambitious.  In  the  year,  therefore,  of  our  Lord's  incarnation 
547,  the  sixtieth  after  Hengist's  death,  the  principality  was 
converted  into  a  kingdom.  The  most  noble  Ida,  in  the  full 
vigour  of  life  and  of  strength,  first  reigned  there.  But 
whether  he  himself  seized  the  chief  authority,  or  received  it 
by  the  consent  of  others,  I  by  no  means  venture  to  determine, 
because  the  truth  is  unrevealed.  However,  it  is  sufficiently 
evident,  that,  sprung  from  a  great  and  ancient  lineage,  he 
reflected  much  splendour  on  his  illustrious  descent,  by  his 
pure  and  unsullied  manners.  Unconquerable  abroad,  at 
home  he  tempered  his  kingly  power  with  peculiar  affability. 
Of  this  man,  and  of  others,  in  their  respective  places,  I 
could  lineally  trace  the  descent,  were  it  not  that  the  very 
names,  of  uncouth  sound,  would  be  less  agreeable  to  my 
readers  than  I  wish.  It  may  be  proper  though  to  remark, 
that  Woden  had  three  sons  ;  Weldeg,  Withleg,  and  Beldeg  ; 
from  the  first,  the  kings  of  Kent  derived  their  origin  ;  from 
the  second,  the  kings  of  Mercia  ;  and  from  the  third,  the 
kings  of  the  West- Saxons  and  Northumbrians,  with  the 
exception  of  the  two  I  am  going  to  particularize.  This  Ida, 
then,  the  ninth  from  Beldeg,  and  the  tenth  from  Woden,  as 
I  find  positively  declared,  continued  in  the  government 
fourteen  years. 

His  successor  Alia,  originating  from  the  same  stock,  but 
descending  from  Woden  by  a  different  branch,  conducted  the 
government,  extended  by  his  exertions  considerably  beyond 
its  former  bounds,  for  thirty  years.  In  his  time,  youths  from 
Northumbria  were  exposed  for  sale,  after  the  common  and 

42  WILLIAM   OF    MALMESBURT.  [b.  i.  c  3. 

almost  native  custom  of  this  people  ;  so  that,  even  as  our 
days  have  witnessed,  they  would  make  no  scruple  of 
separating  the  nearest  ties  of  relationship  through  the 
temptation  of  the  slightest  advantage.  Some  of  these  youths 
then,  carried  from  England  for  sale  to  Rome,  became  the 
means  of  salvation  to  all  their  countrymen.  For  exciting 
the  attention  of  that  city,  by  the  beauty  of  their  countenances 
and  the  elegance  of  their  features,  it  happened  that,  among 
others,  the  blessed  Gregory,  at  that  time  archdeacon  of  the 
apostOiical  see,  was  present.  Admiring  such  an  assemblage 
of  grace  in  mortals,  and,  at  the  same  time,  pitying  their 
abject  condition,  as  captives,  he  asked  the  standers-by,  "of 
what  race  are  these  ?  Whence  come  they  ?  "  They  reply,  "  by 
birth  they  are  Angles  ;  by  country  are  Deiri  ;  (Deira  being 
a  province  of  Northumbria,)  subjects  of  King  Alia,  and 
Pagans."  Their  concluding  characteristic  he  accompanied 
with  heartfelt  sighs  :  to  the  others  he  elegantly  alluded, 
saying,  "that  these  Angles,  angel-like,  should  be  delivered 
from  C^eJ  ira,  and  taught  to  sing  Alle-luia.''^  Obtaining 
permission  without  delay  from  pope  Benedict,  the  industry 
of  this  excellent  man  was  all  alive  to  enter  on  the  journey  to 
convert  them  ;  and  certainly  his  zeal  would  have  completed 
this  intended  labour,  had  not  the  mutinous  love  of  his 
fellow  citizens  recalled  him,  already  on  his  progress.  He 
was  a  man  as  celebrated  for  his  virtues,  as  beloved  by  his 
countrymen  ;  for  by  his  matchless  worth,  he  had  even 
exceeded  the  expectations  they  had  formed  of  him  from  his 
youth.  His  good  intention,  though  frustrated  at  this  time, 
received  afterwards,  during  his  pontificate,  an  honourable 
termination,  as  the  reader  will  find  in  its  proper  place.  I 
have  made  this  insertion  with  pleasure,  that  my  readers 
might  not  lose  this  notice  of  Alia,  mention  of  whom  is 
slightly  made  in  the  life  of  Pope  Gregory,  who,  although  he 
was  the  primary  cause  of  introducing  Christianity  among 
the  Angles,  yet,  either  by  the  counsel  of  God,  or  some 
mischance,  was  never  himself  permitted  to  know  it.  The 
calling,  indeed,  descended  to  his  son. 

On  the  death  of  Alia,  Ethelric,  the  son  of  Ida,  advanced 
to  extreme  old  age,  after  a  life  consumed  in  penury,  obtained 
the  kingdom,  and  after  five  years,  was  taken  off  by  a  sudden 
death.     He  was  a  pitiable  prince,  whom  fame  would  have 

A.D.  588—603.]  ETHELFRID.  43 

hidden  in  obscurity,  had  not  the  conspicuous  energy  of  the 
son  Hfted  up  the  father  to  notice. 

When,  therefore,  by  a  long  old  age,  he  had  satisfied  the 
desire  of  life,  Ethelfrid,  the  elder  of  his  sons,  ascended  the 
throne,  and  compensated  the  greenness  of  his  years  by  the 
maturity  of  his  conduct.  His  transactions  have  been  so  dis- 
played by  graceful  composition,  that  they  want  no  assistance 
of  mine,  except  as  order  is  concerned.  Bede  has  eagerly 
dwelt  on  the  praises  of  this  man  and  his  successors ;  and  has 
dilated  on  the  Northumbrians  at  greater  length,  because  they 
were  his  near  neighbours  :  our  history,  therefore,  will  select 
and  compile  from  his  relation.  In  order,  however,  that  no 
one  may  blame  me  for  contracting  so  diffuse  a  narrative,  I 
must  tell  him  that  I  have  done  it  purposely,  that  they  who 
have  been  satiated  with  such  high-seasoned  delicacies,  may 
respire  a  little  on  these  humble  remnants  :  for  it  is  a  saying 
trite  by  use  and  venerable  for  its  age,  "  that  the  meats  which 
cloy  the  least  are  eaten  with  keenest  appetite."  Ethelfrid 
then,  as  I  was  relating,  having  obtained  the  kingdom,  began 
at  first  vigorously  to  defend  his  own  territories,  afterwards 
eagerly  to  invade  his  neighbours,  and  to  seek  occasion  for 
signalizing  himself  on  all  sides.  Many  wars  were  begun  by 
him  with  foresight,  and  terminated  with  success  ;  as  he  was 
neither  restrained  from  duty  by  indolence,  nor  precipitated 
into  rashness  by  courage.  An  evidence  of  these  tilings  is 
Degstan,*  a  noted  place  in  those  parts,  where  Edan,  king  of 
the  Scots,  envying  Ethelfrid's  successes,  had  constrained 
him,  though  averse,  to  give  battle  ;  but,  being  overcome,  he 
took  to  flight,  though  the  triumph  was  not  obtained  without 
considerable  hazard  to  the  victor.  For  Tedbald,  the  brother 
of  Ethelfrid,  opposing  himself  to  the  most  imminent  dangers 
that  he  might  display  his  zeal  in  his  brother's  cause,  left  a 
mournful  victory  indeed,  being  cut  off  with  his  whole  party. 
Another  proof  of  his  success  is  afforded  by  the  city  of  Car- 
legion,  now  commonly  called  Chester,  which,  till  that  period 
possessed  by  the  Britons,  fostered  the  pride  of  a  people  hos- 
tile to  the  king.  When  he  bent  his  exertions  to  subdue  this 
city,  the  townsmen  preferring  any  extremity  to  a  siege,  and 
at  the  same  confiding  in  their  numbers,  rushed  out  in  multi- 
tudes to  battle.  But  deceived  by  a  stratagem,  they  were 
•  Supposed  Dalstoii  near  Carlisle,  or  Dawston  near  Ichborougb. 

44  -WTLLIAM   OF    MALMESBUKY.  [a.  i,  c.  3. 

overcome  and  put  to  flight ;  his  fury  being  first  vented  on 
the  monks,  who  came  out  in  numbers  to  pray  for  the  safety 
of  the  army.  That  their  number  was  incredible  to  these 
times  is  apparent  from  so  many  half- destroyed  walls  of 
churches  in  the  neighbouring  monastery,  so  many  winding 
porticoes,  such  masses  of  ruins  as  can  scarcely  be  seen  else- 
where. The  place  is  called  Bangor  ;  at  that  day  a  noted 
monastery,  but  now  changed  into  a  cathedral.*  Ethelfrid, 
thus,  wliile  circumstances  proceeded  to  his  wishes  abroad, 
being  desirous  of  warding  off  domestic  apprehensions  and 
intestine  danger,  banished  Edwin,  the  son  of  Alia,  a  youth 
of  no  mean  worth,  from  his  kingdom  and  country.  He, 
wandering  for  a  long  time  without  any  settled  habitation, 
found  many  of  his  former  friends  more  inclined  to  his  enemy 
than  to  the  observance  of  their  engagements  ;  for  as  it  is 

"  If  joy  be  thine,  'tis  then  thy  friends  abound  : 
Misfortune  comes,  and  thou  alone  art  found."  f 

At  last  he  came  to  Redwald,  king  of  the  East  Angles,  and 
bewailing  his  misfortunes,  was  received  into  his  protection. 
Shortly  after  there  came  messengers  from  Ethelfrid,  either 
demanding  the  surrender  of  the  fugitive,  or  denouncing  hos- 
tilities. Determined  by  the  advice  of  his  wife  not  to  violate, 
through  intimidation,  the  laws  of  friendship,  Redwald  col- 
lected a  body  of  troops,  rushed  against  Ethelfrid,  and  at- 
tacked him  suddenly,  whilst  suspecting  nothing  less  than  an 
assault.  The  only  remedy  that  courage,  thus  taken  by  sur- 
prise, could  suggest,  there  being  no  time  to  escape,  he  availed 
himself  of.  Wherefore,  though  almost  totally  unprepared, 
though  beset  with  fearful  danger  on  every  side,  he  fell  not 
till  he  had  avenged  his  own  death  by  the  destruction  of 
Regnhere,  the  son  of  Redwald.  Such  an  end  had  Ethelfrid, 
after  a  reign  of  twenty-four  years  :  a  man  second  to  none  in 
martial  experience,  but  entirely  ignorant  of  the  holy  faith. 
He  had  two  sons  by  Acca,  the  daughter  of  Alia,  sister  of 
Edwin,  Oswald  aged  twelve,  and  Oswy  four  years  ;  who, 
upon  the  death  of  their  father,  fled  through  the  management 
of  their  governors,  and  escaped  into  Scotland. 

*  Malmesbury  here  confounds  the  ancient  monastery  of  Banchor,  near 
Chester,  with  the  more  modern  see  of  Bangor  in  Carnarvonshire. 
t  Ovid.  Trist.  1.  9,  y.  5. 

A.D.  617—633.]  EDWm.  45 

In  this  manner,  all  his  rivals  being  slain  or  banished, 
Edwin,  trained  by  many  adversities,  ascended,  not  meanly 
qualified,  the  summit  of  power.  When  the  haughtiness  of 
the  Northumbrians  had  bent  to  his  dominion,  his  fehcity  was 
crowned  by  the  timely  death  of  Redwald,  whose  subjects, 
during  Edwin's  exile  among  them,  having  formerly  experi- 
enced his  ready  courage  and  ardent  disposition,  now  willingly 
swore  obedience  to  him.  Granting  to  the  son  of  Redwald 
the  empty  title  of  king,  himself  managed  all  things  as  he 
thought  fit.  At  this  juncture,  the  hopes  and  the  resources 
of  the  Angles  centred  totally  in  him ;  nor  was  there  a  single 
province  of  Britain  which  did  not  regard  his  will,  and  prepare 
to  obey  it,  except  Kent :  for  he  had  left  the  Kentish  people 
free  from  his  incursions,  because  he  had  long  meditated 
a  marriage  with  Ethelburga,  sister  of  their  king.  When 
she  was  granted  to  him,  after  a  courtship  long  protracted,  to 
the  intent  that  he  should  not  despise  that  woman  when  pos- 
sessed whom  he  so  ardently  desired  when  withheld,  these 
two  kingdoms  became  so  united  by  the  ties  of  kindred,  that, 
there  was  no  rivalry  in  their  powers,  no  difference  in  their 
manners.  Moreover,  on  this  occasion,  the  faith  of  Christ 
our  Lord,  infused  into  those  parts  by  the  preaching  of  Pau- 
linus,  reached  first  the  king  himself,  whom  the  queen,  among 
other  proofs  of  conjugal  affection,  was  perpetually  instruc- 
ting ;  nor  was  the  admonition  of  bishop  Paulinus  wanting  in 
its  place.  For  a  long  time,  he  was  wavering  and  doubtful ; 
but  once  received,  he  imbibed  it  altogether.  Then  he  invited 
neighbouring  kings  to  the  faith ;  then  he  erected  churches, 
and  neglected  nothing  for  its  propagation.  In  the  mean- 
while, the  merciful  grace  of  God  smiled  on  the  devotion  of 
the  king ;  insomuch,  that  not  only  the  nations  of  Britain, 
that  is  to  say,  the  Angles,  Scots,  and  Picts,  but  even  the 
Orkney  and  Mevanian  isles,  which  we  now  call  Anglesey, 
that  is,  islands  of  the  Angles,  both  feared  his  arms,  and 
venerated  his  power.  At  that  time,  there  was  no  public 
robber;  no  domestic  thief;  the  tempter  of  conjugal  fidelity 
was  far  distant ;  the  plunderer  of  another  man's  inheritance 
was  in  exile :  a  state  of  things  redounding  to  his  praise,  and 
worthy  of  celebration  in  our  times.  In  short,  such  was  the 
increase  of  his  power,  that  justice  and  peace  willingly  met 
and  kissed  each  other,  imparting  mutual  acts  of  kindness. 

46  "WILLIAM   OF   MALMESBURT.  [b,  i.  c.  3. 

And  now  indeed  would  the  government  of  the  Angles  have 
held  a  prosperous  course,  had  not  an  untimely  death,  the 
stepmother  of  all  earthly  felicity,  by  a  lamentable  turn  of 
fortune,  snatched  this  man  from  his  country.  For  in  the 
forty-eighth  year  of  his  age,  and  the  seventeenth  of  his 
reign,  being  killed,  together  with  his  son,  by  the  princes 
whom  he  had  formerly  subjugated,  Cadwalla  of  the  Britons 
and  Penda  of  the  Mercians,  rising  up  against  him,  he  became 
a  melancholy  example  of  human  vicissitude.  He  was  inferior 
to  none  in  prudence  :  for  he  would  not  embrace  even  the 
Christian  faith  till  he  had  examined  it  most  carefully;  but 
when  once  adopted,  he  esteemed  nothing  worthy  to  be  com- 
pared to  it. 

Edwin  thus  slain,  the  sons  of  Ethelfrid,  who  were  also 
the  nephews  of  Edwin,  Oswald,  and  Oswy,  now  grown  up, 
and  In  the  budding  prime  of  youth,  re- sought  their  country, 
together  with  Eanfrid,  their  elder  brother,  whom  I  forgot 
before  to  mention.  The  kingdom,  therefore,  was  now  divided 
into  two.  Lideed,  Northumbria,  long  since  separated  into 
two  provinces,  had  elected  Alia,  king  of  the  Deirans,  and 
Ida,  of  the  Bernicians.  Wherefore  Osric,  the  cousin  of  Ed- 
win, succeeding  to  Deira,  and  Eanfrid,  the  son  of  Ethelfrid, 
to  Bernicia,  they  exulted  in  the  recovery  of  their  hereditary 
right.  They  had  both  been  baptized  in  Scotland,  though 
they  were  scarcely  settled  in  their  authority,  ere  they  re- 
nounced their  faith  :  but  shortly  after  they  suffered  the  just 
penalty  of  their  apostacy  tlirough  the  hostiUty  of  Cadwalla. 
The  space  of  a  year,  passed  in  these  transactions,  improved 
Oswald,  a  young  man  of  great  hope,  in  the  science  of  govern- 
ment. Armed  rather  by  his  faith,  for  he  had  been  admitted 
to  baptism  while  in  exile  with  many  nobles  among  the  Scots, 
than  by  his  military  preparations,  on  the  first  onset  he  drove 
Cadwalla,*  a  man  elated  with  the  recollection  of  his  former 
deeds,  and,  as  he  used  himself  to  say,  "  born  for  the  exter- 
mination of  the  Angles,"  from  his  camp,  and  afterwards  de- 
stroyed him  with  all  his  forces.  For  when  he  had  collected 
the  little  army  which  he  was  able  to  muster,  he  excited  them 
to  the  conflict,  in  which,  laying  aside  all  thought  of  flight, 
they  must  determine  either  to  conquer  or  die,  by  suggesting, 

Cadwalla,  king  of  the  Britons,  having  slaia  Eanfrid  and  Osric,  a.d. 
634,  had  usurped  the  government  of  Northumbria. 

A.D.  635.]  OSWALD.  47 

"that  it  must  be  a  circumstance  liigtly  disgraceful  for  the 
Angles  to  meet  the  Britons  on  such  unequal  terms,  as  to 
fight  against  those  persons  for  safety,  whom  they  had  been 
used  voluntarily  to  attack  for  glory  only ;  that  therefore  they 
should  maintain  their  liberty  with  dauntless  courage,  and 
the  most  strenuous  exertions;  but,  that  of  the  impulse  to 
flight  no  feeling  whatever  should  be  indulged/'  In  conse- 
quence they  met  with  such  fury  on  both  sides,  that,  it  may 
be  truly  said,  no  day  was  ever  more  disastrous  for  the  Bri- 
tons, or  more  joyful  for  the  Angles :  so  completely  was  one 
party  routed  with  all  its  forces,  as  never  to  have  hope  of 
recovering  again ;  so  exceedingly  powerful  did  the  other 
become,  through  the  effects  of  faith  and  the  accompanying 
courage  of  the  king.  From  this  time,  the  worship  of  idols 
fell  prostrate  in  the  dust;  and  he  governed  the  kingdom, 
extended  beyond  Edwin's  boundaries,  for  eight  years,  peace- 
ably and  without  the  loss  of  any  of  his  people.  Bede,  in  his 
History,  sets  forth  the  praises  of  this  king  in  a  high  style  of 
panegyric,  of  which  I  shall  extract  such  portions  as  may  be 
necessary,  by  way  of  conclusion.  With  what  fervent  faith 
his  breast  was  inspired,  may  easily  be  learned  from  this  cir- 
cumstance. If  at  any  time  Aidan  the  priest  addressed  liis 
auditors  on  the  subject  of  their  duty,  in  the  Scottish  tongue, 
and  no  interpreter  was  present,  the  king  himself  would  di- 
rectly, though  habited  in  the  royal  robe,  glittering  with  gold, 
or  glowing  with  Tyrian  purple,  graciously  assume  that  office, 
and  explain  the  foreign  idiom  in  his  native  language.  It  is 
well  known  too,  that  frequently  at  entertainments,  when  the 
guests  had  whetted  their  appetites  and  bent  their  inclinations 
on  the  feast,  he  would  forego  his  own  gratification  ;*  procur- 
ing, by  his  abstinence,  comfort  for  the  poor.  So  that  I  think 
the  truth  of  that  heavenly  sentence  was  fulfilled  even  on 
earth,  where  the  celestial  oracle  hath  said,  "He  that  dis- 
persed abroad,  he  hath  given  to  the  poor,  his  righteousness 
remaineth  for  ever."  And  moreover,  what  the  hearer  must 
wonder  at,  and  cannot  deny,  that  identical  royal  right  hand, 

*  When  he  was  seated  at  table  and  just  about  to  commence  dinner,  the 
royal  almoner  informed  the  king  that  a  great  number  of  poor  were  assem- 
bled in  the  street,  asking  relief;  on  which  he  immediately  ordered  the  whole 
of  the  provisions  to  be  distributed,  and  the  silver  dish  also  to  be  cut  iiiLo 
pieces,  and  divided  amongst  them.     See  Bede,  b.  iii.  c.  6. 

48  WILLIAM   OF   MALMESBURY.  [a  i.  c.  3. 

the  dispenser  of  so  many  alms,  remains  to  this  day  perfect, 
with  the  arm,  the  skin  and  nerves,  though  the  remainder  of 
the  body,  with  the  exception  of  the  bones,  mouldering  into 
dust,  has  not  escaped  the  common  lot  of  mortality.  It  is 
true  the  corporeal  remains  of  some  of  the  saints  are  uncon- 
scious altogether  of  decay.  Wherefore  let  others  determine 
by  what  standard  they  will  fix  their  judgment ;  I  pronounce 
this  still  more  gracious  and  divine  on  account  of  its  singular 
manifestation ;  because  things  ever  so  precious  degenerate  by 
frequency,  and  whatever  is  more  unusual,  is  celebrated  more 
generally.  I  should  indeed  be  thought  prolix  were  I  to  re- 
late how  diligent  he  was  to  address  his  prayers  on  high,  and 
to  fill  the  heavens  with  vows.  This  virtue  of  Oswald  is  too 
well  known  to  require  the  support  of  our  narrative.  For  at 
what  time  would  that  man  neglect  his  supplications,  who,  in 
the  insurrection  excited  by  Penda  king  of  the  Mercians,  liis 
guards  being  put  to  flight  and  himself  actually  carrying  a 
forest  of  darts  in  liis  breast,  could  not  be  prevented  by  the 
pain  of  his  wounds  or  the  approach  of  death,  from  praying 
for  the  souls  of  his  faithful  companions  ?  In  such  manner 
this  personage,  of  surpassing  celebrity  in  this  world,  and 
highly  in  favour  with  God,  ending  a  valuable  Hfe,  trans- 
mitted his  memory  to  posterity  by  a  frequency  of  miracles ; 
and  indeed  most  deservedly.  For  it  is  not  common,  but 
even  more  rare  than  a  white  crow,  for  men  to  abound  in 
riches,  and  not  give  indulgence  to  their  vices.* 

When  he  was  slain,  his  arms  with  the  hands  and  his  head 
were  cut  olf  by  the  insatiable  rage  of  his  conqueror,  and 
fixed  on  a  stake.  The  dead  trunk  indeed,  as  I  have  men- 
tioned, being  laid  to  rest  in  the  calm  bosom  of  the  earth, 
turned  to  its  native  dust ;  but  the  arms  and  hands,  through 
the  power  of  God,  remain,  according  to  the  testimony  of  an 
author  of  veracity,  without  corruption.  These  being  placed 
by  his  brother  Oswy  in  a  shrine,  at  the  city  of  Bebbanburg,f 
so  the  Angles  call  it,  and  shown  for  a  miracle,  bear  testimony 
to  the  fact.  Whether  they  remain  at  that  place  at  the  pre- 
sent day,  I  venture  not  rashly  to  affirm,  because  I  waver  in 
my  opinion.  If  other  historians  have  precipitately  recorded 
any  matter,  let  them  be  accountable  :    I  hold  common  report 

*  Juv.  Sat.  \ii.  202. 

t  Bambrough  in  Northumberland.     Bede  iii.  6,  p.  118, 

A.v.  642.]  OSWALD.  49 

at  a  cheaper  rate,  and  affirm  notliing  but  what  is  deserving 
of  entire  credit.  The  head  was  then  buried  by  his  before- 
mentioned  brother  at  Lindisfarne  ;  but  it  is  said  now  to  be 
preserved  at  Durham  in  the  arms  of  the  blessed  Cuthbert.* 
When  Ostritha,  the  wife  of  Ethelred,  king  of  the  Mercians, 
daughter  of  king  Oswy,  through  regard  to  her  uncle,  was 
anxious  to  take  the  bones  of  the  trunk  to  her  monastery  of 
Bardney,  which  is  in  the  country  of  the  Mercians  not  far 
from  the  city  of  Lincohi,  the  monks  refused  her  request  at 
first  J  denying  repose  even  to  the  bones  of  that  man  when 
dead  whom  they  had  hated  whilst  living,  because  he  had  ob- 
tained their  country  by  right  of  arms.  But  at  midnight 
being  taught,  by  a  miraculous  light  from  heaven  shining  on 
the  relics,  to  abate  their  haughty  pride,  they  became  con- 
verts to  reason,  and  even  entreated  as  a  favour,  what  before 
they  had  rejected.  Virtues  from  on  high  became  resident 
in  this  place  :  every  sick  person  who  implored  this  most 
excellent  martyr's  assistance,  immediately  received  it.  The 
withering  turf  grew  greener  from  his  blood,  and  recovered  a 
horse  :f  and  some  of  it  being  hung  up  against  a  post,  the 
devouring  flames  fled  from  it  in  their  turn.  Some  dust, 
moistened  from  liis  relics,  was  equally  efiicacious  in  restoring 
a  lunatic  to  his  proper  senses.  The  washings  of  the  stake 
which  had  imbibed  the  blood  fresh  streaming  from  his  head, 
restored  health  to  one  despairing  of  recovery.  For  a  long 
time  this  monastery,  possessing  so  great  a  treasure,  flourished 
in  the  sanctity  of  its  members  and  the  abundance  of  its 
friends,  more  especially  after  king  Ethelred  received  the 
tonsure  there,  where  also  liis  tomb  is  seen  even  to  the  pre- 
sent day.  After  many  years  indeed,  when  the  barbarians 
infested  these  parts,  the  bones  of  the  most  holy  Oswald  were 
removed  to  Gloucester.  This  place,  at  that  period  inhabited 
by  monks,  but  at  the  present  time  by  canons,  contains  but 
few  inmates.  Oswald,  therefore,  was  the  man  who  yielded 
the  first  fruits  of  holiness  to  his  nation  ;  since  no  Angle  be- 

*  St.  Cuthbert  is  represented  as  holding  the  head  of  Oswald  in  his  arms. 
Bede's  bones  were  afterwards  laid  in  the  same  coffin. 

+  The  horse  lay  down  under  his  rider  in  great  agony ;  but  recovered  by 
rolling  on  the  spot  and  cropping  the  gi'ass.  A  person  carried  away  some  of 
the  earth,  which  he  hung  up  against  a  post  in  the  wall :  the  house  caught 
fire  and  was  burnt  with  the  exception  of  the  timber  to  which  the  bag  was 
tied.     See  Bede,  b.  iii.  c.  9, 10  ;  and  for  the  other  stories,  c.  13. 

50  WILLIAM   OF   MALMESBURT.  [b.  i.  c.  3. 

fore  him,  to  my  knowledge,  was  celebrated  for  miracles.  For 
after  a  life  spent  in  sanctity,  in  liberally  giving  alms,  in  fre- 
quent watchings  and  prayer,  and  lastly,  through  zeal  for  the 
church  of  God,  in  waging  war  with  an  heathen,  he  poured 
out  his  spirit,  according  to  his  wishes,  before  he  could  behold, 
what  was  his  greatest  object  of  apprehension,  the  decline  of 
Christianity.  Nor  indeed  shall  he  be  denied  the  praise  of 
the  martyrs,  who,  first  aspiring  after  a  holy  life,  and  next 
opposing  his  body  to  a  glorious  death,  certainly  trod  in  their 
steps  :  in  a  manner  he  deserves  higher  commendation,  since 
they  barely  consecrated  themselves  to  God  ;  but  Oswald  not 
only  himself,  but  all  the  Northumbrians  with  him. 

On  his  removal  from  this  world,  Oswy  his  brother 
assumed  the  dominion  over  the  Bernicians,  as  did  Oswin, 
the  son  of  Osric,  whom  I  have  before  mentioned,  over 
the  Deirans.  After  meeting  temperately  at  first  on  the 
subject  of  the  division  of  the  provinces,  under  a  doubtful 
truce,  they  each  retired  peaceably  to  their  territories  ;  but 
not  long  after,  by  means  of  persons  who  delighted  in  sowing 
the  seeds  of  discord,  the  peace,  of  which  they  had  so  often 
made  a  mockery  by  ambiguous  treaties,  was  finally  broken, 
and  vanished  into  air.  Horrid  crime  !  that  there  should  be 
men  who  could  envy  these  kings  their  friendly  intimacy,  nor 
abstain  from  using  their  utmost  efibrts  to  precipitate  them 
into  battle.  Here  then  fortune,  who  had  before  so  frequently 
caressed  Oswin  with  her  blandishments,  now  wounded  him 
with  her  scorpion-sting.  For  thinking  it  prudent  to  abstain 
from  fighting,  on  account  of  the  smallness  of  his  force,  he 
had  secretly  withdrawn  to  a  country-seat,  where  he  was 
immediately  betrayed  by  his  own  people,  and  killed  by  Oswy. 
He  was  a  man  admirably  calculated  to  gain  the  favour  of  his 
subjects  by  his  pecuniary  liberahty ;  and,  as  they  relate, 
demonstrated  his  care  for  his  soul  by  his  fervent  devotion. 
Oswy,  thus  sovereign  of  the  entire  kingdom,  did  every  thing 
to  wipe  out  this  foul  stain,  and  to  increase  his  dignity,  ex- 
tenuating the  enormity  of  that  atrocious  deed  by  the  recti- 
tude of  his  future  conduct.  Indeed  the  first  and  highest 
point  of  his  glory  is,  that  he  nobly  avenged  his  brother  and 
his  uncle,  and  gave  to  perdition  Penda  king  of  the  Mercians, 
that  destroyer  of  his  neighbours,  and  fomenter  of  hostility. 
From  tliis  period  he  either  governed  the  Mercians,  as  well  as 

A.D.  655—670.]  OSWY.       EGFRED.  51 

almost  all  tlie  Angles,  himself,  or  was  supreme  over  those 
who  did.     Turning  from  this  time  altogether  to  offices  of 
piety,  that  he  might  be  truly  grateful  for  the  favours  of  God 
perpetually  flowing  down  upon  him,  he  proceeded  to  raise  up 
and  animate,  with  all  his  power,  the  infancy  of  the  Christian 
faith,  which  of  late  was  fainting  through  his  brother's  death. 
This  faith,  brought  shortly  after  to  maturity  by  the  learning 
of  the  Scots,  but  wavering  in  many  ecclesiastical  observances, 
was  now  settled  on  canonical  foundations :  *  first  by  Agilbert 
and  Wilfrid,  and  next  by  archbishop  Theodore :  for  whose 
arrival  in  Britain,  although  Egbert,  king  of  Kent,  as  far  as 
his  province  is  concerned,  takes  much  from  his  glory,   the 
chief  thanks  are  due  to  Oswy.  f     Moreover  he  built  numer- 
ous habitations  for  the  servants  of  God,  and  so  left  not  his 
country  destitute  of  this  advantage  also.     The  principal  of 
these  monasteries,  at  that  time   for   females,    but   now  for 
males,  was  situate  about  thirty  miles  north  of  York,  and  was 
anciently  called  Streaneshalch,  but  latterly  Whitby.     Begun 
by  Hilda,  a  woman  of  singular  piety,  it  was  augmented  with 
large  revenues  by  Elfled,  daughter  of  this  king,  who  suc- 
ceeded her  in  the  government  of  it ;  in  which  place  also  she 
buried  her  father  with  all  due  solemnity,  after  he  had  reigned 
twenty-eight  years.     This  monastery,  like  all  others  of  the 
same  order,  was  destroyed  in  the  times  of  the  Danish  inva- 
sion,  which  will  be  related  hereafter,  and  bereaved  of  the 
bodies  of  many  saints.      For  the   bones  of  St.  Aidan   the 
bishop,  of  Ceolfrid  the  abbat,  and  of  that  truly  holy  virgin 
Hilda,  together  with  those  of  many  others,  were,  as  I  have 
related  in  the  book  which  I  lately  published  on  the  Antiquity 
of  the  Church  of  Glastonbury,  at  that  time  removed  to  Glas- 
tonbury ;  and  those  of  other  saints  to  different  places.     Now 
the  monastery,  under  another  name,  and  somewhat  restored 
as  circumstances  permitted,  hardly  presents  a  vestige  of  its 
former  opulence. 

To  Oswy,  who  had  two  sons,  the  elder  who  was  illegiti- 
mate being  rejected,  succeeded  the  younger,  Egfrid,  legiti- 
mately born,  more  valued  on  account  of  the  good  quahties  of 
his  most  pious  wife  Etheldrida,  than  for  his  own  ;  yet  he 

*  The  principal  points  in  dispute  were,  the  time  of  celebrating  Easter 
and  the  form  of  the  tonsure.     See  Bede,  Eccl.  Hist.  iii.  25, 
+  See  Bede,  Hist.  Eccl.  iii.  29. 


52  WILLIAM   OF   MALMESBURT.  [b,  i.  c.  3. 

was  certainly  to  be  commended  for  two  things  wliicli  I  have 
read  in  the  history  of  the  Angles,  his  allowing  his  wife  to 
dedicate  herself  to  God,  and  his  promoting  the  blessed  Cuth- 
bert  to  a  bishopric,  whose  tears  at  the  same  time  burst  out 
with  pious  assent.*  But  my  mind  shudders  at  the  bare  re- 
collection of  his  outrage  against  the  holy  Wilfrid,  when, 
loathing  his  virtues,  he  deprived  the  country  of  this  shining 
character.  Overbearing  towards  the  suppHant,  a  malady 
incident  to  tyrants,  he  overwhelmed  the  Irish,  a  race  of  men 
harmless  in  genuine  simplicity  and  guiltless  of  every  crime, 
with  incredible  slaughter.  On  the  other  hand,  inactive 
towards  the  rebellious,  and  not  following  up  the  triumphs  of 
his  father,  he  lost  the  dominion  of  the  Mercians,  and  more- 
over, defeated  in  battle  by  Ethelred  the  son  of  Penda,  their 
king,  he  lost  his  brother  also.  Perhaps  these  last  circum- 
stances may  be  truly  attributed  to  the  unsteadiness  of 
youth,  but  his  conduct  towards  Wilfrid,  to  the  instigation  of 
his  wife, I  and  of  the  bishops  ;  more  especially  as  Bede,  a 
man  who  knew  not  how  to  flatter,  calls  him,  in  his  book  of 
the  Lives  of  his  Abbats,  the  most  pious  man,  the  most  be- 
loved by  Grod.  At  length,  in  the  fifteenth  year  of  his  reign, 
as  he  was  leading  an  expedition  against  the  Picts,  and 
eagerly  pursuing  them  as  they  purposely  retired  to  some 
secluded  mountains,  he  perished  with  almost  all  his  forces  ; 
the  few  who  escaped  by  flight  carried  home  news  of  the 
event ;  and  yet  the  divine  Cuthbert,  from  his  knowledge  of 
future  events,  had  both  attempted  to  keep  him  back,  when 
departing,  and  at  the  very  moment  of  his  death,  enlightened 
by  heavenly  influence,  declared,  though  at  a  distance,  that 
he  was  slain. 

While  a  more  than  common  report  every  where  noised  the 
death  of  Egfrid,  an  intimation  of  it,  "  borne  on  the  wings  of 
haste,"  reached  the  ears  of  his  brother  Alfrid.  Though  the 
elder  brother,  he  had  been  deemed,  by  the  nobility,  unwor- 

*  Bede's  Life  of  St.  Cuthbert,  c.  24. 

t  Ermenburga,  the  second  wife  of  Egfrid.  The  first,  Etheldrida,  was 
divorced  from  him,  on  account  of  her  love  of  cehbacy,  and  became  a  nun. 
Wilfrid,  bishop  of  Hexham,  was  several  times  expelled  his  see.  Elected 
bishop  of  York,  a.d.  664,  he  was  expelled  in  678  He  was  recalled  to 
Northumbria  in  687,  and  again  expelled  692.  He  died  a.  d.  709,  having 
been  reinstated  by  the  pope.     See  Bede  v.  1 9.  and  Sax.  Chron. 

A.D.  085— 730.]  OSRED. CEOLWULF.  53 

thy  of  the  government,  from  his  illegitimacy,  as  I  have  ob- 
served, and  had  retired  to  Ireland,  either  through  compulsion 
or  indignation.  In  this  place,  safe  from  the  persecution  of 
his  brother,  he  had,  from  his  ample  leisure,  become  deeply 
versed  in  Uterature,  and  had  enriched  his  mind  with  every 
kind  of  learning.  On  which  account  the  very  persons  who 
had  formerly  banished  him,  esteeming  him  the  better  quali- 
fied to  manage  the  reins  of  government,  now  sent  for  him  of 
their  own  accord.  Fate  rendered  efficacious  their  entreaties ; 
neither  did  he  disappoint  their  expectations.  For  during 
the  space  of  nineteen  years,  he  presided  over  the  kingdom  in 
the  utmost  tranquiUity  and  joy  ;  doing  nothing  that  even 
greedy  calumny  itself  could  justly  carp  at,  except  the  perse- 
cution of  that  great  man  Wilfrid.  However  he  held  not  the 
same  extent  of  territory  as  his  father  and  brother,  because 
the  Picts,  proudly  profiting  by  their  recent  victory,  and 
attacking  the  Angles,  who  were  become  indolent  through  a 
lengthened  peace,  had  curtailed  his  boundaries  on  the  north. 
He  had  for  successor  his  son,  Osred,  a  boy  of  eight  years 
old ;  who  disgracing  the  throne  for  eleven  years,  and 
spending  an  ignominious  life  in  the  seduction  of  nuns,  was 
ultimately  taken  off  by  the  hostility  of  his  relations.  Yet 
he  poured  out  to  them  a  draught  from  the  same  cup  ;  for 
Kenred  after  reigning  two,  and  Osric  eleven  years,  left  only 
this  to  be  recorded  of  them  ;  that  they  expiated  by  a  violent 
death,  the  blood  of  their  master,  whom  they  supposed  they 
had  rightfully  slain.  Osric  indeed  deserved  a  happier  end, 
for,  as  a  heathen*  says,  he  was  more  dignified  than  other 
shades,  because,  while  yet  living  he  had  adopted  Ceolwulf, 
Kenred's  brother,  as  his  successor.  Then  Ceolwulf  ascended 
the  giddy  height  of  empire,  seventh  in  descent  from  Ida  :  a 
man  competent  in  other  respects,  and  withal  possessed  of  a 
depth  of  literature,  acquired  by  good  abilities  and  indefati- 
gable attention.  Bede  vouches  for  the  truth  of  my  assertion, 
who,  at  the  very  juncture  when  Britain  most  abounded  with 
scholars,  offered  his  History  of  the  Angles,  for  correction,  to 
this  prince  more  especially  ;  making  choice  of  his  authority, 
to  confirm  by  his  high  station  what  had  been  well  written  ; 
and  of  his  learning,  to  rectify  by  his  talents  what  might  be 
carelessly  expressed. 

*  Virg.  iEn.  vi.  815. 

54  WILLLOI   OF   MALMESBHRT.  [b.  i.  c.  3. 

In  the  fourth  year  of  his  reign,  Bede,  the  historian,  after 
having  written  many  books  for  the  holy  church,  entered  the 
heavenly  kingdom,  for  which  he  had  so  long  languished,  in 
the  year  of  our  Lord's  incarnation  734  ;  of  his  age  the 
fifty-ninth.  A  man  whom  it  is  easier  to  admire  than  worthily 
to  extol :  who,  though  born  in  a  remote  corner  of  the  world, 
was  able  to  dazzle  the  whole  earth  with  the  brilliancy  of  his 
learning.  For  even  Britain,  which  by  some  is  called  another 
world,  since,  surrounded  by  the  ocean,  it  was  not  thoroughly 
known  by  many  geographers,  possesses,  in  its  remotest  region, 
bordering  on  Scotland,  the  place  of  his  birth  and  education. 
This  region,  formerly  exhaling  the  grateful  odour  of 
monasteries,  or  ghttering  with  a  multitude  of  cities  built  by 
the  Romans,  now  desolate  through  the  ancient  devastations 
of  the  Danes,  or  those  more  recent  of  the  Normans,*  presents 
but  little  to  allure  the  mind.  Here  is  the  river  Wear,  of 
considerable  breadth  and  rapid  tide  ;  which  running  into  the 
sea,  receives  the  vessels,  borne  by  gentle  gales,  on  the  calm 
bosom  of  its  haven.  Both  its  banks  f  have  been  made 
conspicuous  by  one  Benedict,  J  who  there  built  churches  and 
monasteries  ;  one  dedicated  to  Peter,  and  the  other  to  Paul, 
united  in  the  bond  of  brotherly  love  and  of  monastic  rule. 
The  industry  and  forbearance  of  this  man,  any  one  will 
admire  who  reads  the  book  which  Bede  composed  concerning 
his  life  and  those  of  the  succeeding  abbats  :  his  industry,  in 
bringing  over  a  multitude  of  books,  and  being  the  first  person 
who  introduced  in  England  constructors  of  stone  edifices,  as 
well  as  makers  of  glass  windows  ;  in  which  pursuits  he  spent 
almost  his  whole  life  abroad  :  the  love  of  his  country  and 
his  taste  for  elegance  beguiling  his  painful  labours,  in  the 

*  The  country  was  laid  waste  by  the  Danes,  a.d.  793,  and  continued  to 
be  disturbed  by  them  throughout  the  reigns  of  Alfred  and  Ethelred.  The 
great  devastation  was  made  by  William  the  Conqueror  a.d.  1069. 

t  This  is  not  quite  correct :  Jarrow,  one  of  Benedict's  monasteries,  is  on 
the  river  Tyne. 

^  Benedict  sumamed  Biscop,  a  noble  Northumbrian,  quitted  the  service 
of  king  Oswy,  when  he  had  attained  his  twenty-fifth  year,  and  travelled  to 
Rome  five  several  times  ;  occupying  himself  while  there,  either  in  learning 
the  Roman  ritual,  or  in  collecting  books,  pictures,  and  ornaments  of  various 
descriptions  for  the  monasteries  he  had  founded  at  Wearmouth  :  he  also 
brought  over  masons  from  France  to  build  a  church  after  the  Roman 
manner  ;  as  well  as  artificers  in  glass.  See  Bede's  Lives  of  the  Abbats  of 
Wearmouth  and  Jarrow. 

A.  D.  690.]  CEOLFEID.  55 

earnest  desire  of  conveying  something  to  his  countrymen  out 
of  the  common  way  ;  for  very  rarely  before  the  time  of 
Benedict  were  buildings  of  stone  *  seen  in  Britain,  nor  did 
the  solar  ray  cast  its  light  through  the  transparent  glass. 
Again,  his  forbearance :  for  when  in  possession  of  the 
monastery  of  St.  Augustine  at  Canterbury,  he  cheerfully 
resigned  it  to  Adrian,  when  he  arrived,  not  as  fearing  the 
severity  of  St.  Theodore  the  archbishop,  but  bowing  to  his 
authority.  And  farther,  while  long  absent  abroad,  he 
endured  not  only  with  temper,  but,  I  may  say,  with 
magnanimity,  the  substitution  of  another  abbat,  without  his 
knowledge,  by  the  monks  of  Wearmouth ;  and  on  his  return, 
admitted  him  to  equal  honour  with  himself,  in  rank  and 
power.  Moreover,  when  stricken  so  severely  with  the  palsy 
that  he  could  move  none  of  his  limbs,  he  appointed  a  third 
abbat,  because  the  other,  of  whom  we  have  spoken,  was 
not  less  affected  by  the  same  disease.  And  when  the 
disorder,  increasing,  was  just  about  to  seize  his  vitals,  he 
bade  adieu  to  his  companion^  who  was  brought  into  his 
presence,  with  an  inclination  of  the  head  only  ;  nor  was  he 
better  able  to  return  the  salutation,  for  he  was  hastening  to 
a  still  nearer  exit,  and  actually  died  before  Benedict. 

Ceolfrid  succeeded,  under  whom  the  affairs  of  the 
monastery  flourished  beyond  measure.  When,  through 
extreme  old  age,  life  ceased  to  be  desirable,  he  purposed 
going  to  Rome,  that  he  might  pour  out,  as  he  hoped,  his 
aged  soul  an  offering  to  the  apostles  his  masters.  But  failing 
of  the  object  of  his  desires,  he  paid  the  debt  of  nature  at  the 
city  of  Langres.  The  relics  of  his  bones  were  in  after  time 
conveyed  to  his  monastery  ;  and  at  the  period  of  the  Danish 
devastation,  with  those  of  St.  Hilda,  were  taken  to  Glaston- 
bury, f     The  merits  of  these  abbats,  sufficiently  eminent  in 

*  "...  lapidei  tabulatus,"  this  seems  intended  to  designate  buildings 
with  courses  of  stone  in  a  regular  manner,  which  is  also  implied  by  him, 
De  Gestis  Pontif.  lib.  iii.  f.  148.  Bede,  whom  he  here  follows,  affords  no 
assistance  as  to  the  precise  meaning :  he  merely  states,  that  Benedict  caused 
a  church  to  be  erected  after  the  Roman  model. 

+  The  monks  of  Glastonbiu-y  used  all  possible  means  to  obtain  relics  of 
saints.  See  the  curious  account  of  a  contention  concerning  the  body  of 
St.  Dunstan,  which  those  monks  asserted  they  had  stolen  from  Canterbury, 
after  it  had  been  burnt  by  the  Danes,  in  the  time  of  Ethelred,  in  Whartoni 
Anglia  Sacra,  vol.  ii.  p.  222. 

o€f  WILLIAM   OF   MALMESBUKT.  [b.  r.  c.  5, 

themselves,  their  celebrated  pupil,  Bede,  crowns  with 
superior  splendour.  It  is  written  indeed,  "  A  wise  son  is  the 
glory  of  his  father  : "  for  one  of  them  made  him  a  monk,  the 
other  educated  him.  And  since  Bede  himself  has  given  some 
slight  notices  of  these  facts,  comprising  his  whole  life  in  a 
kind  of  summary,  it  may  be  allowed  to  turn  to  his  words, 
which  the  reader  will  recognize,  lest  any  variation  of  the 
style  should  affect  the  relation.  At  the  end  then  of  the 
Ecclesiastical  History  of  the  English  *  this  man,  as  praise- 
worthy in  other  respects  as  in  this,  that  he  withheld  nothing 
from  posterity,  though  it  might  be  only  a  trifling  knowledge 
of  himself,  says  thus  : 

"  I,  Bede,  the  servant  of  Christ,  and  priest  of  the  monas- 
tery of  the  holy  apostles  Peter  and  Paul,  which  is  at  Wear- 
mouth,  have,  by  God's  assistance,  arranged  these  materials 
for  the  history  of  Britain.  I  was  born  within  the  posses- 
sions of  this  monastery,  and  at  seven  years  of  age,  was  com- 
mitted, by  the  care  of  my  relations,  to  the  most  reverend 
abbat  Benedict,  to  be  educated,  and,  after,  to  Ceolfrid  ;  pass- 
ing the  remainder  of  my  life  from  that  period  in  residence 
at  the  said  monastery,  I  have  given  up  my  whole  attention 
to  the  study  of  the  Scriptures,  and  amid  the  observance  of 
my  regular  discipline  and  my  daily  duty  of  singing  in  the 
church,  have  ever  delighted  to  learn,  to  teach,  or  to  write. 
In  the  nineteenth  year  of  my  life,  I  took  deacon's,  in  the 
thirtieth,  priest's  orders  ;  both,  at  the  instance  of  abbat 
Ceolfrid,  by  the  ministry  of  the  most  reverend  bishop  John  :"f 
from  which  time  of  receiving  the  priesthood  till  the  fifty- 
ninth  year  of  my  age,  I  have  been  employed  for  the  benefit 
of  myself  or  of  my  friends,  in  making  these  extracts  from 
the  works  of  the  venerable  fathers,  or  in  making  additions, 
according  to  the  form  of  their  sense  or  interpretation."  Then 
enumerating  thirty-six  volumes  which  he  published  in 
seventy-eight  books,  he  proceeds,  "  And  I  pray  most  earnestly, 
0  merciful  Jesus,  that  thou  wouldst  grant  me,  to  whom  thou 
hast  already  given  the  knowledge  of  thyself,  finally  to  come 
to  thee,  the  fountain  of  all  wisdom,  and  to  appear  for  ever 
in  thy  presence.     Moreover  I  humbly  entreat  all  persons, 

*  Eccles.  Hist.,  book  v.  ch.  24. 

+  John  of  Beverley,  bishop  of  Hexham,  a.d.  686.  He  was  made  bishop 
of  York,  A.D.  705,  and  died  7th  of  May,  722.    See  Bede,  b.  v.  c.  -2—6. 

AD. 701.]  SERGIUS'S   EPISTLE.  57 

whether  readers  or  hearers,  whom  this  history  of  our  nation 
shall  reach,  that  they  be  mindful  to  intercede  with  the  divine 
clemency  for  my  infirmities  both  of  mind  and  of  body,  and 
that,  in  their  several  provinces,  they  make  me  this  grateful 
return  ;  that  I,  who  have  diligently  laboured  to  record,  of 
every  province,  or  of  more  exalted  places,  what  appeared 
worthy  of  preservation  or  agreeable  to  the  inhabitants,  may 
receive,  from  all,  the  benefit  of  their  pious  intercessions." 

Here  my  abilities  fail,  here  my  eloquence  falls  short ; 
ignorant  which  to  praise  most,  the  number  of  his  writings, 
or  the  gravity  of  his  style.  No  doubt  he  had  imbibed  a 
large  portion  of  heavenly  wisdom,  to  be  able  to  compose  so 
many  volumes  within  the  limits  of  so  short  a  life.  Nay, 
they  even  report,  that  he  went  to  Rome  for  the  purpose 
either  of  personally  asserting  that  his  writings  were  con- 
sistent with  the  doctrines  of  the  church  ;  or  of  correcting 
them  by  apostolical  authority,  should  they  be  found  repug- 
nant thereto.  That  he  went  to  Rome  I  do  not  however 
affirm  for  fact :  but  I  have  no  doubt  in  declaring  that  he  was 
invited  thither,  as  the  following  epistle  will  certify  ;  as  well 
as  that  the  see  of  Rome  so  highly  esteemed  him  as  greatly  to 
desire  his  presence. 

"  Sergius  the  bishop,  servarit  of  the  servants  of  God,  to 
Ceolfrid  the  holy  abbat  sendeth  greeting  : — 

'•'  With  what  words,  and  in  what  manner,  can  we  declare 
the  kindness  and  unspeakable  providence  of  our  God,  and 
return  fit  thanks  for  his  boundless  benefits,  who  leads  us, 
when  placed  in  darkness,  and  the  shadow  of  death,  to  the 
light  of  knowledge  ?"  And  below,  "  Know,  that  we  received 
the  favour  of  the  offering  which  your  devout  piety  hath  sent 
by  the  present  bearer,  with  the  same  joy  and  goodwill  with 
which  it  was  transmitted.  We  assent  to  the  timely  and  be- 
coming prayers  of  your  laudable  anxiety  with  deepest  regard, 
and  entreat  of  your  pious  goodness,  so  acceptable  to  God, 
that,  since  there  have  occurred  certain  points  of  ecclesiastical 
discipline,  not  to  be  promulgated  without  farther  examina- 
tion, which  have  made  it  necessary  for  us  to  confer  with  a 
person  skilled  in  literature,  as  becomes  an  assistant  of  God's 
holy  universal  mother-church,  you  would  not  delay  paying 
ready  obedience  to  this,  our  admonition  ;  but  would  send 
without  loss  of  time,  to  our  lowly  presence,  at  the  church  of 

58  WILLIAM   OF  MALMESBURT.  [b.  i.  c.  3. 

the  chief  apostles,  my  lords  Peter  and  Paul,  your  friends  and 
protectors,  that  religious  servant  of  God,  Bede,  the  venerable 
priest  of  your  monastery ;  whom,  God  willing,  you  may  expect 
to  return  in  safety,  when  the  necessary  discussion  of  the  above- 
mentioned  points  shall  be,  by  God's  assistance,  solemnly 
completed  :  for  whatever  may  be  added  to  the  church  at 
large,  by  his  assistance,  will,  we  trust,  be  profitable  to  the 
things  committed  to  your  immediate  care." 

So  extensive  was  his  fame  then,  that  even  the  majesty  of 
Rome  itself  solicited  his  assistance  in  solving  abstruse  ques- 
tions, nor  did  Gallic  conceit  ever  find  in  this  Angle  any 
thing  justly  to  blame.  All  the  western  world  yielded  the 
palm  to  his  faith  and  authority ;  for  indeed  he  was  of  sound 
faith,  and  of  artless,  yet  pleasing  eloquence  :  in  all  elucida- 
tions of  the  holy  scriptures,  discussing  those  points  from 
which  the  reader  might  imbibe  the  love  of  God,  and  of  his 
neighbour,  rather  than  those  which  might  charm  by  their 
wit,  or  polish  a  rugged  style.  Moreover  the  irrefragable 
truth  of  that  sentence,  which  the  majesty  of  divine  wisdom 
proclaimed  to  the  world  forbids  any  one  to  doubt  the  sanctity 
of  liis  life,  "  Wisdom  will  not  enter  the  malevolent  soul,  nor 
dwell  in  the  person  of  the  sinful ;"  which  indeed  is  said  not 
of  earthly  wisdom,  which  is  infused  promiscuously  into  the 
hearts  of  men,  and  in  which,  even  the  wicked,  who  continue 
their  crimes  until  their  last  day,  seem  often  to  excel,  accord- 
ing to  the  divine  expression,  "  The  sons  of  this  world  are  in 
their  generation  wiser  than  the  children  of  light;"  but  it 
rather  describes  that  wisdom  which  needs  not  the  assistance 
of  learning,  and  which  dismisses  from  its  cogitations  those 
things  which  are  void  of  understanding,  that  is  to  say,  of  the 
understanding  of  acting  and  speaking  properly.  Hence 
Seneca  in  his  book,  "  De  Causis,"*  appositely  relates  that 
Cato,  defining  the  duty  of  an  orator,  said,  "  An  orator  is  a 
good  man,  skilled  in  speaking."  This  ecclesiastical  orator, 
then,  used  to  purify  his  knowledge,  that  so  he  might,  as  far  as 
possible,  unveil  the  meaning  of  mystic  writings.  How  indeed 
could  that  man  be  enslaved  to  vice  who  gave  his  whole  soul 
and  spirit  to  elucidate  the  scriptures  ?  For,  as  he  confesses 
in  his  third  book  on  Samuel,  if  his  expositions  were  produc- 
tive of  no  advantage  to  his  readers,  yet  were  they  of  cou- 
•  Seneca,  Controvers.  lib.  1. 

AD.  735.]  DEATH   OF  BEDE.  59 

siderable  importance  to  himself,  inasmuch  as,  while  fully  in- 
tent upon  them,  he  escaped  the  vanity  and  empty  imagina- 
tions of  the  times.  Purified  from  vice,  therefore,  he  entered 
within  the  inner  veil,  divulging  in  pure  diction  the  senti- 
ments of  his  mind. 

But  the  unspotted  sanctity  and  holy  purity  of  liis  heart 
were  chiefly  conspicuous  on  the  approach  of  death.  Although 
for  seven  weeks  successively,  from  the  indisposition  of  his 
stomach,  he  nauseated  all  food,  and  was  troubled  with  such  a 
difficulty  of  breathing  that  his  disorder  confined  him  to  his 
bed,  yet  he  by  no  means  abandoned  his  literary  avocations. 
During  whole  days  he  endeavoured  to  mitigate  the  pressure 
of  his  disorder  and  to  lose  the  recollection  of  it  by  constant 
lectures  to  his  pupils,  and  by  examining  and  solving  abstruse 
questions,  in  addition  to  his  usual  task  of  psalmody.  More- 
over the  gospel  of  St.  John,  which  from  its  difficulty  exer- 
cises the  talents  of  its  readers  even  to  the  present  day,  was 
translated  by  him  into  the  English  language,  and  accommo- 
dated to  those  who  did  not  understand  Latin.  Occasionally, 
also,  would  he  admonish  his  disciples,  saying,  "  Learn,  my 
children,  while  I  am  with  you,  for  I  know  not  how  long  I 
shall  continue  ;  and  although  my  Maker  should  very  shortly 
take  me  hence,  and  my  spirit  should  return  to  him  that  sent 
and  granted  it  to  come  into  this  life,  yet  have  I  lived  long, 
God  hath  rightly  appointed  my  portion  of  days,  I  desire  to 
be  dissolved  and  to  be  with  Christ." 

Often  too  when  the  balance  was  poised  between  hope  and 
fear,  he  would  remark  "  It  is  a  fearful  thing  to  fall  into  the 
hands  of  the  living  God.*  I  have  not  passed  my  life  among 
you  in  such  manner  as  to  be  ashamed  to  live,  neither  do  I 
fear  to  die,  because  we  have  a  kind  Master  ;"  thus  borrowing 
the  expression  of  St.  Ambrose  when  dying.  Happy  man  ! 
who  could  speak  with  so  quiet  a  conscience  as  neither  being 
ashamed  to  live,  nor  afraid  to  die  ;  on  the  one  hand  not  fear- 
ing the  judgment  of  men,  on  the  other  waiting  with  com- 
posure the  hidden  will  of  God.  Often,  when  urged  by  ex- 
tremity of  pain,  he  comforted  himself  with  these  remarks, 
"  The  furnace  tries  the  gold,  and  the  fire  of  temptation  the 
just  man  :  the  sufferings  of  this  present  time  are  not  worthy 

•  Hebrews  x.  31. 

60  WILLIAM   OF   MALMESBURY.  [b.  i.  c.  3- 

to  be  compared  to  the  future  glory  which  shall  be  revealed  in 
us."*  Tears  and  a  dijQ3.culty  of  breathing  accompanied  his 
words.  At  night,  when  there  were  none  to  be  instructed  or 
to  note  down  his  remarks,  he  passed  the  whole  season  in 
giving  thanks  and  singing  psalms,  fulfilling  the  saying  of 
that  very  wise  man,f  "  that  he  was  never  less  alone  than  when 
alone."  If  at  any  time  a  short  and  disturbed  sleep  stole  upon 
his  eye-lids,  he  immediately  shook  it  off,  and  showed  that  his 
affections  were  always  intent  on  God,  by  exclaiming  "  Lift 
me  up,  O  Lord,  that  the  proud  calumniate  me  not.  Do  with 
thy  servant  according  to  thy  mercy."  These  and  similar  ex- 
pressions which  his  shattered  memory  suggested,  flowed 
spontaneously  from  his  lips  whenever  the  pain  of  his  agoniz- 
ing disorder  became  mitigated.  But  on  the  Tuesday  before 
our  Lord's  ascension  his  disease  rapidly  increased,  and  there 
appeared  a  small  swelling  in  his  feet,  the  sure  and  certain 
indication  of  approaching  death.  Then  the  congregation 
being  called  together,  he  was  anointed  and  received  the  sacra- 
ment. Kissing  them  all,  and  requesting  from  each  that  they 
would  bear  him  in  remembrance,  he  gave  a  small  present, 
which  he  had  privately  reserved,  to  some  with  whom  he  had 
been  in  closer  bonds  of  friendship.  On  Ascension  day,  when 
bis  soul,  tired  of  the  frail  occupation  of  the  body,  panted  to 
be  free,  lying  down  on  a  hair-cloth  near  the  oratory,  where 
he  used  to  pray,  with  sense  unimpaired  and  joyful  counte- 
nance, he  invited  the  grace  of  the  Holy  Spirit,  saying,  "  0 
King  of  glory.  Lord  of  virtue,  who  ascendedst  this  day  trium- 
phant into  the  heavens,  leave  us  not  destitute,  but  send  upon 
us  the  promise  of  the  Father,  the  Spirit  of  truth."  This 
prayer  ended,  he  breathed  his  last,  and  immediately  the  senses 
of  all  were  pervaded  by  an  odour  such  as  neither  cinnamon 
nor  balm  could  give,  but  coming,  as  it  were,  from  paradise, 
and  fraught  with  all  the  joyous  exhalations  of  spring.  At 
that  time  he  was  buried  in  the  same  monastery,  but  at  pre- 
sent, report  asserts  that  he  lies  at  Durham  with  St.  Cuthbert. 
With  this  man  was  buried  almost  all  knowledge  of  history 
down  to  our  times,  inasmuch  as  there  has  been  no  English- 

*  Romans  viii.  18. 

t  Scipio  Africanus  was  accustomed  to  observe,  "  that  he  was  never  less 
idle  than  when  unoccupied,  nor  never  less  alone  than  when  by  himself." 
Cicero  de  Offic.  1.  3. 

A.I).  737, 738.]  KING   EADBERT.  61 

man  either  emulous  of  his  pursuits,  or  a  follower  of  his 
graces,  who  could  continue  the  thread  of  his  discourse,  now 
broken  short.  Some  few  indeed,  "  whom  the  mild  Jesus 
loved,"  though  well  skilled  in  literature,  have  yet  observed  an 
ungracious  silence  throughout  their  lives  ;  others,  scarcely 
tasting  of  the  stream,  have  fostered  a  criminal  indolence. 
Thus  to  the  slothful  succeeded  others  more  slothful  still, 
and  the  warmth  of  science  for  a  long  time  decreased  throughout 
the  island.  The  verses  of  his  epitaph  will  afford  sufficient 
specimen  of  this  indolence  ;  they  are  indeed  contemptible, 
and  unworthy  the  tomb  of  so  great  a  man  : 

"  Presbyter  hie  Beda,  requiescit  carne  sepultus  ; 
Dona,  Christe,  animam  in  coelis  gaudere  per  sevum  : 
Daque  illi  sophiae  debriari  fonte,  cui  jam 
Suspiravit  ovans,  intento  semper  amore."* 

Can  this  disgrace  be  extenuated  by  any  excuse,  that  there 
was  not  to  be  found  even  in  that  monastery,  where  during 
his  lifetime  the  school  of  all  learning  had  flourished,  a  single 
person  who  could  write  his  epitaph,  except  in  this  mean  and 
paltry  style  ?  But  enough  of  this  :  I  will  return  to  my 

Ceolwulf  thinking  it  beneath  the  dignity  of  a  Christian  to 
be  immersed  in  earthly  things,  abdicated  the  throne  after  a 
reign  of  eight  years,  and  assumed  the  monastic  habit  at  Lin- 
disfarne,  in  which  place  how  meritoriously  he  lived,  is  amply 
testified  by  his  being  honourably  interred  near  St.  Cuthbert, 
and  by  many  miracles  vouchsafed  from  on  high. 

He  had  made  provision  against  the  state's  being  endan- 
gered, by  placing  his  cousin,  Eadbert,f  on  the  throne,  which 
he  fiUed  for  twenty  years  with  singular  moderation  and 
virtue.  Eadbert  had  a  brother  of  the  same  name,  archbishop 
of  York,  who,  by  his  own  prudence  and  the  power  of  the 
king,  restored  that  see  to  its  original  state.  For,  as  is  well 
known  to  any  one  conversant  in  the  history  of  the  Angles,  J 

*  These  lines  are  thus  rendered  into  English  : 

*^  Beneath  this  stone  Bede's  mortal  body  lies  ; 
God  grant  his  soul  may  rest  amid  the  skies. 
May  he  drink  deeply,  in  the  realms  above. 
Of  wisdom's  fount,  which  he  on  earth  did  love  !" 

+  Called  Egbert  by  some  wiiters.  t  Paulinus  had  departed  from 

Northumbria,  in  consequence  of  the  confusion  which  prevailed  on  the  death 
of  Edwin.     Bede,  b.  ii.  c.  20.     He  died  Oct.  10,  644. 

62  WILLIAM   OF   MALMESBURY.  [b.  i.  c.  1 

Paulinus,  the  first  prelate  of  the  church  of  York,  had  been 
forcibly  driven  away,  and  died  at  Rochester,  where  he  left 
that  honourable  distinction  of  the  pall  which  he  had  received 
from  pope  Honorius.  After  him,  many  prelates  of  this 
august  city,  satisfied  with  the  name  of  a  simple  bishopric, 
aspired  to  nothing  higher  :  but  when  Eadbert  was  seated  on 
the  throne,  a  man  of  loftier  spirit,  and  one  who  thought, 
that,  "  as  it  is  over-reaching  to  require  what  is  not  our  due, 
so  is  it  ignoble  to  neglect  our  right,"  he  reclaimed  the  pall 
by  frequent  appeals  to  the  pope.  This  personage,  if  I  may 
be  allowed  the  expression,  was  the  depository  and  receptacle 
of  every  liberal  art ;  and  founded  a  most  noble  library  at 
York.  For  this  I  cite  Alcuin,  *  as  competent  witness  ;  who 
was  sent  from  the  kings  of  England  to  the  emperor  Charles 
the  Great,  to  treat  of  peace,  and  being  hospitably  entertained 
by  him,  observes,  in  a  letter  to  Eanbald,  third  in  succession 
from  Eadbert,  "  Praise  and  glory  be  to  God,  who  hath  pre- 
served my  days  in  full  prosperity,  that  I  should  rejoice  in 
the  exaltation  of  my  dearest  son,  who  laboured  in  my  stead, 
in  the  church  where  I  had  been  brought  up  and  educated, 
and  presided  over  the  treasures  of  wisdom,  to  which  my 
beloved  master,  archbishop  Egbert,  left  me  heir."  Thus  too 
to  Charles  Augustus  :  f  "  Give  me  the  more  polished  vo- 
lumes of  scholastic  learning,  such  as  I  used  to  have  in  my 
own  country,  through  the  laudable  and  ardent  industry  of 
my  master,  archbishop  Egbert.  And,  if  it  please  your  wis- 
dom, I  will  send  some  of  our  youths,  who  may  obtain  thence 
whatever  is  necessary,  and  bring  back  into  France  the  flow- 
ers of  Britain  ;  that  the  garden  of  Paradise  may  not  be  con- 
fined to  York,  but  that  some  of  its  scions  may  be  transplanted 
to  Tours." 

This  is  the  same  Alcuin,  who,  as  I  have  said,  was  sent 
into  France  to  treat  of  peace,  and  during  his  abode  with 
Charles,  captivated  either  by  the  pleasantness  of  the  country 
or  the  kindness  of  the  king,  settled  there  ;  and  being  held  in 
high  estimation,  he  taught  the  king,  during  his  leisure  from 

♦  Alcuin,  a  native  of  Northumbria,  and  educated  at  York,  through  his 
learning  and  talents  became  the  intimate  friend  and  favourite  of  Charle- 
magne, for  whom  he  transcribed,  with  his  o^vn  hand,  the  Holy  Scriptures. 
This  relic  is  now  preserved  in  the  British  Museum. 

f  See  this  epistle  at  length  in  Alcuini  Op,  vol.  i.  p,  52.    Epist.  38. 

A.D.  738.]  KINGS   OF   FRANCE.  63 

the  cares  of  state,  a  thorough  knowledge  of  logic,  rhetoric, 
and  astronomy.  Alcuin  was,  of  all  the  Angles,  of  whom  I 
have  read,  next  to  St.  Aldhelm  and  Bede,  certainly  the  most 
learned,  and  has  given  proof  of  his  talents  in  a  variety  of 
compositions.  He  lies  buried  in  France,  at  the  church  of 
St.  Paul,  of  Cormaric,  *  which  monastery  Charles  the  Great 
built  at  his  suggestion  :  on  which  account,  even  at  the  pre- 
sent day,  the  subsistence  of  four  monks  is  distributed  in 
alms,  for  the  soul  of  our  Alcuin,  in  that  church. 

But  since  I  am  arrived  at  that  point  where  the  mention  of 
Charles  the  Great  naturally  presents  itself,  I  shall  subjoin  a 
true  statement  of  the  descent  of  the  kings  of  France,  of 
which  antiquity  has  said  much  :  nor  shall  I  depart  widely 
from  my  design  ;  because  to  be  unacquainted  with  their 
race,  I  hold  as  a  defect  in  information  ;  seeing  that  they  are 
our  near  neighbours,  and  to  them  the  Christian  world  chiefly 
looks  up  :  and,  perhaps,  to  glance  over  this  compendium  may 
give  pleasure  to  many  who  have  not  leisure  to  wade  through 
voluminous  works. 

The  Franks  were  so  called,  by  a  Greek  appellative,  from 
the  ferocity  of  their  manners,  when,  by  order  of  the  emperor 
Valentinian  the  First,  they  ejected  the  Alani,  who  had 
retreated  to  the  Maeotian  marshes.  It  is  scarcely  possible  to 
believe  how  much  this  people,  few  and  mean  at  first,  became 
increased  by  a  ten  years'  exemption  from  taxes  :  such,  before 
the  war,  being  the  condition  on  which  they  engaged  in  it. 
Thus  augmenting  wonderfully  by  the  acquisition  of  freedom, 
and  first  seizing  the  greatest  part  of  Germany,  and  next  the 
whole  of  Gaul,  they  compelled  the  inhabitants  to  list  under 
their  banners.  Hence  the  Lotharingi  and  Allamanni,  and 
other  nations  beyond  the  Rhine,  who  are  subject  to  the 
emperor  of  Germany,  will  have  themselves  more  properly  to 
be  called  Franks  ;  and  those  whom  we  suppose  Franks,  they 
call  by  an  ancient  appellative  Galwalge,  that  is  to  say,  Gauls. 
To  this  opinion  I  assent ;  knowing  that  Charles  the  Great, 
whom  none  can  deny  to  have  been  king  of  the  Franks, 
always  used  the  same  vernacular  language  with  the  Franks 
on  the  other  side  of  the  Rhine.     Any  one  who  shall  read  the 

*  Others  say  he  was  buried  at  St.  Martin's,  at  Tours,  where  he  died, 
April  18,  804.     His  works  will  be  included  in  Patres  Ecclesi^  Angu- 


64  WILLIAM  OF   MALMESBUKT.  [b.  i.  c.  3. 

life  of  Charles  will  readily  admit  the  truth  of  my  assertion.  * 
In  the  year  then  of  the  Incarnate  Word  425  the  Franks 
were  governed  by  Faramund,  their  first  king.  The  grand- 
son of  Faramund  was  Meroveus,  from  whom  all  the  suc- 
ceeding kings  of  the  Franks,  to  the  time  of  Pepin,  were 
called  Merovingians.  In  like  manner  the  sons  of  the  kings 
of  the  Angles  took  patronymical  appellations  from  their 
fathers,  For  instance  ;  Eadgaring  the  son  of  Edgar  ;  Ead- 
munding  the  son  of  Edmund,  and  the  rest  in  Hke  manner  ; 
commonly,  however,  they  are  called  ethelings.  The  native 
language  of  the  Franks,  therefore,  partakes  of  that  of  the 
Angles,  by  reason  of  both  nations  originating  from  Germany. 
The  Merovingians  reigned  successfully  and  powerfully  till 
the  year  of  our  Lord's  incarnation,  687.  At  that  period 
Pepin,  son  of  Ansegise,  was  made  mayor  of  the  palace  f 
among  the  Franks,  on  the  other  side  of  the  Rhine.  Seizing 
opportunities  for  veiling  his  ambitious  views,  he  completely 
subjugated  his  master  Theodoric,  the  dregs  as  it  were  of  the 
Merovingians,  and  to  lessen  the  obloquy  excited  by  the 
transaction,  he  indulged  him  with  the  empty  title  of  king, 
while  himself  managed  every  thing,  at  home  and  abroad, 
according  to  his  own  pleasure.  The  genealogy  of  this  Pepin, 
both  to  and  from  him,  is  thus  traced  :  Ausbert,  the  senator, 
on  Blithilde,  the  daughter  of  Lothaire,  the  father  of  Dago- 
bert,  begot  Arnold  :  Arnold  begot  St.  Arnulph,  bishop  of 
Metz  :  Arnulph  begot  Flodulph,  Walcthise,  AjQSchise  :  Flo- 
dulph  begot  duke  Martin,  whom  Ebroin  slew :  Walcthise 
begot  the  most  holy  Wandregesil  the  abbat :  duke  Anschise 
begot  Ansegise  :  Ansegise  begot  Pepin.  The  son  of  Pepin 
was  Carolus  Tudites,  whom  they  also  call  Martel,  because  he 
beat  down  the  tyrants  who  were  raising  up  in  every  part  of 
France,  and  nobly  defeated  the  Saracens,  at  that  time  infest- 
ing Gaul.  Following  the  practice  of  his  father,  whilst  he 
was  himself  satisfied  with  the  title  of  earl,  he  kept  the  kings 

*  The  Life  of  Charlemagne,  by  Eginhard,  who  was  secretary  to  that 
monarch.  Du  Chesne  Script.  Franc,  torn.  ii.  It  is  one  of  the  most  amus- 
ing books  of  the  period. 

+  The  mayors  of  the  palace  seem  originally  to  have  merely  regulated 
the  king's  household,  but  by  degrees  they  acquired  so  much  power,  that 
Pepin  the  elder,  maternal  grandfather  of  him  here  mentioned,  had  already 
become  in  effect,  king  of  France.  They  first  appear  to  have  usurped 
the  regal  power  under  Clevis  II.  a.  d.  638. 

A.D.  747—937.]    CAROLOMAN — CHARLEMAGNE LOUIS.       65 

in  a  state  of  pupilage.  He  left  two  sons,  Pepin  and  Carolo- 
man.  Caroloman,  from  some  unknown  cause,  relinquishing 
the  world,  took  his  religious  vows  at  Mount  Cassin.  Pepin 
was  crowned  king  of  the  Franks,  and  patrician  of  the  Ro- 
mans, in  the  church  of  St.  Denys,  hj  pope  Stephen,  the  suc- 
cessor of  Zachary.  For  the  Constantinopolitan  emperors, 
already  much  degenerated  from  their  ancient  valour,  giving 
no  assistance  either  to  Italy  or  the  church  of  Rome,  which 
had  long  groaned  under  the  tyranny  of  the  Lombards,  this 
pope  bewailed  the  injuries  to  which  they  were  exposed  from 
them  to  the  ruler  of  the  Franks  ;  wherefore  Pepin  passing 
the  Alps,  reduced  Desiderius,  king  of  the  Lombards,  to  such 
difficulties,  that  he  restored  what  he  had  plundered  to  the 
church  of  Rome,  and  gave  surety  by  oath  that  he  would  not 
attempt  to  resume  it.  Pepin  returning  to  France  after  some 
years,  died,  leaving  his  surviving  children,  Charles  and 
Caroloman,  his  heirs.  In  two  years  Caroloman  departed 
this  life.  Charles  obtaining  the  name  of  "  Great"  from  his 
exploits,  enlarged  the  kingdom  to  twice  the  limits  which  it 
possessed  in  his  father's  time,  and  being  contented  for  more 
than  thirty  years  with  the  simple  title  of  king,  abstained 
from  the  appellation  of  emperor,  though  repeatedly  invited 
to  assume  it  by  pope  Adrian.  But  when,  after  the  death  of 
this  pontiff,  his  relations  maimed  the  holy  Leo,  his  successors 
in  the  church  of  St.  Peter,  so  as  to  cut  out  his  tongue,  and 
put  out  his  eyes,  Charles  hastily  proceeded  to  Rome  to  settle 
the  state  of  the  church.  Justly  punishing  these  abandoned 
wretches,  he  stayed  there  the  whole  winter,  and  restored  the 
pontiff,  now  speaking  plainly  and  seeing  clearly,  by  the 
miraculous  interposition  of  God,  to  liis  customary  power. 
At  that  time  the  Roman  people,  with  the  privity  of  the  pon- 
tiff, on  the  day  of  our  Lord's  nativity,  unexpectedly  hailed 
him  with  the  title  of  Augustus  ;  which  title,  though,  from 
its  being  unusual,  he  reluctantly  admitted,  yet  afterwards  he 
defended  with  proper  spirit  against  the  Constantinopolitan 
emperors,  and  left  it,  as  hereditary,  to  his  son  Louis.  His 
descendants  reigned  in  that  country,  which  is  now  properly 
called  France,  till  the  time  of  Hugh,  surnamed  Capet,  from 
whom  is  descended  the  present  Louis.  From  the  same  stock 
came  the  sovereigns  of  Germany  and  Italy,  till  the  year  of 
our  Lord  912,  when  Conrad,  king  of  the  Teutonians,  seized 


66  WILLIAJI   OP    MALMESBURY.  !e.  i.  c,3. 

that  empire.  The  grandson  of  this  personage  was  Otho  the 
Great,  equal  in  every  estimable  quality  to  any  of  the  em- 
perors who  preceded  him.  Thus  admirable  for  his  valour 
and  goodness,  he  left  the  empire  hereditary  to  liis  posterity  ; 
for  the  present  Henry,  son-in-law  of  Henry,  king  of  Eng- 
land, derives  his  lineage  from  his  blood. 

To  return  to  m.y  narrative :  Alcuin,  though  promoted  by 
Charles  the  Great  to  the  monastery  of  St.  Martin  in  France, 
was  not  unmindful  of  his  countrymen,  but  exerted  himself 
to  retain  the  emperor  in  amity  with  them,  and  stimulated 
them  to  virtue  by  frequent  epistles.  I  shall  here  subjoin 
many  of  his  observations,  from  which  it  will  appear  clearly 
how  soon  after  the  death  of  Bede  the  love  of  learning  de- 
clined even  in  his  own  monastery:  and  how  quickly  after 
the  decease  of  Eadbert  the  kingdom  of  the  Northumbrians 
came  to  ruin,  through  the  prevalence  of  degenerate  manners. 

He  says  thus  to  the  monks  of  Wearmouth,  among  whom 
Bede  had  both  lived  and  died,  obliquely  accusing  them  of 
having  done  the  very  thing  which  he  begs  them  not  to  do, 
"  Let  the  youths  be  accustomed  to  attend  the  praises  of  our 
heavenly  King,  not  to  dig  up  the  burrows  of  foxes,  or  pursue 
the  winding  mazes  of  hares ;  let  them  now  learn  the  Holy 
Scriptures,  that,  when  grown  up,  they  may  be  able  to  in- 
struct others.  Remember  the  most  noble  teacher  of  our 
times,  Bede,  the  priest,  what  thirst  for  learning  he  had  in 
his  youth,  what  praise  he  now  has  among  men,  and  what  a 
far  greater  reward  of  glory  with  God."  Again,  to  those  of 
York  he  says,  "  The  Searcher  of  my  heart  is  witness  that  it 
was  not  for  lust  of  gold  that  I  came  to  France  or  continued 
there,  but  for  the  necessities  of  the  church."  And  thus  to 
OfFa,  king  of  the  Mercians,  "  I  was  prepared  to  come  to  you 
with  the  presents  of  king  Charles  and  to  return  to  my  coun- 
try, but  it  seemed  more  advisable  to  me,  for  the  peace  of  my 
nation,  to  remain  abroad,  not  knowing  what  I  could  have 
done  among  those  persons,  with  whom  no  one  can  be  secure, 
or  able  to  proceed  in  any  laudable  pursuit.  Behold  every 
holy  place  is  laid  desolate  by  Pagans,  the  altars  are  polluted 
by  perjury,  the  monasteries  dishonoured  by  adultery,  the 
earth  itself  stained  with  the  blood  of  rulers  and  of  princes." 
Again,  to  king  Ethelred,  third  in  the  sovereignty  after  Ead- 
bert, "  Behold  the  church  of  St.  Cuthbert  is  sprinkled  with 

A,D.  758.J  OSWULPH.  67 

the  blood  of  God's  priests,  despoiled  of  all  its  ornaments, 
and  the  holiest  spot  in  Britain  given  up  to  Pagan  nations  to 
be  plundered ;  and  where,  after  the  departure  of  St.  Paulinus 
from  York,  the  Christian  religion  first  took  its  rise  in  our 
own  nation,  there  misery  and  calamity  took  their  rise  also. 
What  portends  that  shower  of  blood  which  in  the  time  ot 
Lent,  in  the  city  of  York,  the  capital  of  the  whole  kingdom, 
in  the  church  of  St.  Peter,  the  chief  of  the  apostles,  we  saw 
tremendously  falling  on  the  northern  side  of  the  building 
from  the  summit  of  the  roof,  though  the  weather  was  fair  ? 
Must  not  blood  be  expected  to  come  upon  the  land  from  the 
northern  regions?"  Again,  to  Osbert,  prince  of  the  Mer- 
cians, "Our  kingdom  of  the  Northumbrians  has  almost 
perished  through  internal  dissensions  and  perjury."  So  also 
to  Athelard,  archbishop  of  Canterbury,  "I  speak  this  on 
account  of  the  scourge  which  has  lately  fallen  on  that  part 
of  our  island  which  has  been  inhabited  by  our  forefathers 
for  nearly  three  hundred  and  forty  years.  It  is  recorded  in 
the  writings  of  Gildas,  the  wisest  of  the  Britons,  that  those 
very  Britons  ruined  their  country  through  the  avarice  and 
rapine  of  their  princes,  the  iniquity  and  injustice  of  their 
judges,  their  bishops'  neglect  of  preaching,  the  luxury  and 
abandoned  manners  of  the  people.  Let  us  be  cautious  that 
such  vices  become  not  prevalent  in  our  times,  in  order  that 
the  divine  favour  may  preserve  our  country  to  us  in  that 
happy  prosperity  for  the  future  which  it  has  hitherto  in  its 
most  merciful  kindness  vouchsafed  us." 

It  has  been  made  evident,  I  think,  what  disgrace  and  what 
destruction  the  neglect  of  learning  and  the  immoral  manners 
of  degenerate  men  brought  upon  England !  These  remarks 
obtain  this  place  in  my  history  merely  for  the  purpose  of 
cautioning  my  readers. 

Eadbert,  then,  rivalling  his  brother  in  piety,  assumed  the 
monastic  habit,  and  gave  place  to  Oswulph,  his  son,  who 
being,  without  any  cause  on  his  part,  slain  by  his  subjects, 
was,  after  a  twelvemonth's  reign,  succeeded  by  Moll.  Moll 
carried  on  the  government  with  commendable  diligence  for 
eleven  years,*  and  then  fell  a  victim  to  the  treachery  of 

*  Malmesbury  differs  from  all  the  best  authorities,  who  assign  only  six 
years  to  his  reign.  He  ascended  the  throne  a,d.  759,  and  was  expelled 
A.D.  765. 

F   2 

bo  WILLIAM   OP   MALMESBURY.  [b.  i.  c.  3. 

Alcred.  Alcred  in  his  tenth  year  was  compelled  by  his 
countrymen  to  retire  from  the  government  which  he  had 
usurped.  Ethelred  too,  the  son  of  Moll,  being  elected  king, 
was  expelled  by  them  at  the  end  of  five  years.  Alfwold 
was  next  hailed  sovereign ;  but  he  also,  at  the  end  of  eleven 
years,  experienced  the  perfidy  of  the  inhabitants,  for  he  was 
cut  off  by  assassination,  though  guiltless,  as  his  distinguished 
interment  at  Hexham  and  divine  miracles  sufficiently  declare. 
His  nephew,  Osred,*  the  son  of  Alcred,  succeeding  him,  was 
expelled  after  the  space  of  a  year,  and  gave  place  to  Ethel- 
red,  who  was  also  called  Ethelbert.  He  was  the  son  of 
Moll,  also  called  Ethelwald,  and,  obtaining  the  kingdom 
after  twelve  years  of  exile,  held  it  during  four,  at  the  end 
of  which  time,  unable  to  escape  the  fate  of  his  predecessors, 
he  was  cruelly  murdered.  At  this,  many  of  the  bishops  and 
nobles  greatly  shocked,  fled  from  the  country.  Some  indeed 
affirm  that  he  was  punished  deservedly,  because  he  had  as- 
sented to  the  unjust  murder  of  Osred,  whereas  he  had  it  in 
his  power  to  quit  the  sovereignty  and  restore  him  to  his 
throne.  Of  the  beginning  of  this  reign  Alcuin  thus  speaks : 
"Blessed  be  God,  the  only  worker  of  miracles,  Ethelred, 
the  son  of  Ethelwald,  went  lately  from  the  dungeon  to  the 
throne,  from  misery  to  grandeur ;  by  the  infancy  of  whose 
reign  v.^e  are  detained  from  coming  to  you."f  Of  his  death 
he  writes f  thus  to  Offa  king  of  the  Mercians:  "Your  es- 
teemed kindness  is  to  understand  that  my  lord,  king  Charles, 
often  speaks  to  me  of  you  with  affection  and  sincerity,  and 
in  him  you  have  the  firmest  friend.  He  therefore  sends 
becoming  presents  to  your  love,  and  to  the  several  sees  of 
your  kingdom.  In  like  manner  he  had  appointed  presents 
for  king  Ethelred,  and  for  the  sees  of  his  bishops,  but,  oh, 
dreadful  to  think,  at  the  very  moment  of  despatching  these 
gifts  and  letters    there  came  a  sorrowful  account,  by  the 

•  Osred,  through  a  conspiracy  of  his  nobles,  had  been  deposed,  and, 
after  receiving  the  tonsure,  was  compelled  to  go  into  exile.  Two  years 
after,  induced  by  the  promises  and  oaths  of  certain  of  the  Northumbrian 
chiefs,  he  returned,  but  being  deserted  by  his  forces,  he  was  made  prisoner 
and  put  to  death  by  the  order  of  Ethelred.  Sim.  Dunelm.  a.d.  790 — 2. 
Osred  was  expelled  from  his  kingdom,  a.d.  790,  and  Ethelred  was  restored 
after  an  exile  of  twelve  years. — Hardy. 

f  This  letter  is  not  yet  published  in  Alcuini  Opera. 

X  Epist.  xlii.  Op.  torn.  i.  p.  57. 

A.i>.  79C— 827.]  KING   EGBERT.  69 

ambassadors  who  returned  out  of  Scotland  through  your 
country,  of  the  faithlessness  of  the  people,  and  the  death 
of  the  king.  So  that  Charles,  withholding  his  liberal  gift?-, 
is  so  highly  incensed  against  that  nation  as  to  call  it  per- 
fidious and  perverse,  and  the  murderer  of  its  sovereigns, 
esteeming  it  worse  than  pagan;  and  had  I  not  interceded 
he  would  have  already  deprived  them  of  every  advantage 
within  his  reach,  and  have  done  them  all  the  injury  in  his 

After  Ethelred  no  one  durst  ascend  the  throne;*  each 
dreading  the  fate  of  his  predecessor,  and  preferring  a  life 
of  safety  in  inglorious  ease,  to  a  tottering  reign  in  anxious 
suspense :  for  most  of  the  Northumbrian  kings  had  ended 
their  reigns  by  a  death  which  was  now  become  almost 
habitual.  Thus  being  without  a  sovereign  for  thirty-three 
years,  that  province  became  an  object  of  plunder  and  con- 
tempt to  its  neighbours.  For  when  the  Danes,  who,  as  I 
have  before  related  from  the  words  of  Alcuin,  laid  waste 
the  holy  places,  on  their  return  home  represented  to  their 
countrymen  the  fruitfulness  of  the  island,  and  the  indolence 
of  its  inhabitants ;  these  barbarians  came  over  hastily,  in 
great  numbers,  and  obtained  forcible  possession  of  that  part 
of  the  country,  till  the  time  we  are  speaking  of :  indeed  they 
had  a  king  of  their  own  for  many  years,  though  he  was  sub- 
ordinate to  the  authority  of  the  king  of  the  West  Saxons. 
However,  after  the  lapse  of  these  thirty-three  years,  king 
Egbert  obtained  the  sovereignty  of  this  province,  as  well  as 
of  the  others,  in  the  year  of  our  Lord's  incarnation  827,  and 
the  twenty-eighth  of  his  reign.  And  since  we  have  reached 
his  times,  mindful  of  our  engagement,  we  shall  speak  briefly 
of  the  kingdom  of  the  Mercians ;  and  this,  as  well  because 
we  admire  brevity  in  relation,  as  that  there  is  no  great 
abundance  of  materials. 

*  This  is  not  quite  correct :  Osbald  was  elected  by  a  party  to  succeed 
him ;  but  after  a  very  short  period  he  was  deposed,  and  the  government 
devolved  on  Eardulf.  Eardulf  after  a  few  years  was  driven  into  exile; 
went  to  Rome,  and,  it  would  seem,  was  restored  to  his  kingdom,  by  the 
influence  of  Charlemagne,  a.d.  808.  V.  Sim.  Dunelm.  col.  117,  and 
Eginhardi  Annales,  Duchesne,  2,  255. 

to  WILLIAM   OP   MALMESBURY.  [b.  i  c.  4. 


Of  the  kings  of  the  Mercians,     [a.d.  626 — 874.] 

In  the  year  of  our  Lord's  incarnation  626,  and  the  hundred 
and  thirty-ninth  after  the  death  of  Hengist,  Penda  the  son 
of  Pybba,  tenth  in  descent  of  Woden,  of  noble  lineage,  ex- 
pert in  war,  but  at  the  same  time  an  irreligious  heathen,  at 
the  age  of  fifty  assumed  the  title*  of  king  of  the  Mercians, 
after  he  had  already  fostered  his  presumption  by  frequent 
incursions  on  his  neighbours.  Seizing  the  sovereignty, 
therefore,  with  a  mind  loathing  quiet  and  unconscious  how 
great  an  enormity  it  was  even  to  be  victorious  in  a  contest 
against  his  own  countrymen,  he  began  to  attack  the  neigh- 
bouring cities,  to  invade  the  confines  of  the  surrounding 
kings,  and  to  fill  everything  with  terror  and  confusion.  For 
what  would  not  that  man  attempt,  who,  by  his  lawless  dar- 
ing, had  extinguished  those  luminaries  of  Britain,  Edwin 
and  Oswald,  kings  of  the  Northumbrians,  Sigebert,  Ecgric, 
and  Anna,  kings  of  the  East  Angles ;  men,  in  whom  nobility 
of  race  was  equalled  by  sanctity  of  life  ?  Kenwalk  also, 
king  of  the  West  Saxons,  after  being  frequently  harassed 
by  him,  was  driven  into  exile;  though,  perhaps,  he  deser- 
vedly paid  the  penalty  of  his  perfidy  towards  God,  in  deny- 
ing his  faith ;  and  towards  Penda  himself,  in  repudiating  his 
sister.  It  is  irksome  to  relate,  how  eagerly  he  watched  op- 
portunities of  slaughter,  and  as  a  raven  flies  greedily  at  the 
scent  of  a  carcase,  so  he  joined  Cadwalla,j'  and  was  of  in- 
finite service  to  him,  in  recovering  his  dominions.  In  this 
manner,  for  thirty  years,  he  attacked  his  countrymen,  but 
did  nothing  worthy  of  record  against  strangers.  His  insa- 
tiable desires,  however,  at  last  found  an  end  suitable  to  their 
deserts ;  for  being  routed,  with  his  allies,  by  Oswy,  who  had 
succeeded  his  brother  Oswald,  more  through  the  assistance 

•  It  would  appear  that  Penda  was  not  the  first  king,  but  the  first  of 
any  note.  Hen.  Huntingdon  assigns  the  origin  of  the  kingdom  to  about 
the  year  584  under  Crida,  who  was  succeecled,  in  the  year  600,  by  Pybba; 
Ceorl  came  to  the  throne  in  610,  and  Penda  in  626.  See  H.  Hunt, 
f.  181,  184— b. 

f  King  of  the  Britons,  see  Bede,  b.  ii.  ch.  20.  It  was  by  his  assistance 
that  Cadwalla  defeated  Edwin,  king  of  Northumbria,  at  Hatfield,  Oct.  12, 
A.D.  633. 

AD  655—661.]  PEADA — ^WULFHERE.  71 

of  God  thau  Ills  military  powers,  Penda  increased  the  num- 
ber of  infernal  spirits.  By  his  queen  Kyneswith  his  sons 
were  Peada,  Wulfhere,  Ethelred,  Merwal,  and  Mercelin: 
his  daughters,  Kyneburg,  and  Kyneswith ;  both  distinguished 
for  inviolable  chastity.  Thus  the  parent,  though  ever  re- 
bellious towards  God,  produced  a  most  holy  offspring  for 

His  son  Peada  succeeded  him  in  a  portion  of  the  kingdom, 
by  the  permission  of  Oswy,  advanced  to  the  government  of 
the  South  Mercians ;  a  young  man  of  talents,  and  even  in 
his  father's  lifetime  son-in-law  to  Oswy.  For  he  had  re- 
ceived his  daughter,  on  condition  of  renouncing  paganism 
and  embracing  Christianity;  in  which  faith  he  would  soon 
have  caused  the  province  of  participate,  the  peaceful  state 
of  the  kingdom  and  his  father-in-law's  consent  tending  to 
such  a  purpose,  had  not  his  death,  hastened,  as  they  say,  by 
the  intrigues  of  his  Avife,  intercepted  these  joyful  prospects. 
Then  Oswy  resumed  the  government,  which  seemed  rightly 
to  appertain  to  him  from  liis  victory  over  the  father,  and 
from  his  affinity  to  the  son.  The  spirit,  however,  of  tne 
inhabitants  could  not  brook  his  authority  more  than  three 
years ;  for  they  expelled  his  generals,  and  Wulfhere,  the 
son  of  Penda,  being  hailed  as  his  successor,  the  province 
recovered  its  liberty. 

Wulfhere,  that  he  might  not  disappoint  the  hopes  of  the 
nation,  began  to  act  with  energy,  to  show  himself  an  efficient 
prince  by  great  exertions  both  mental  and  personal,  and 
finally  to  afford  Christianity,  introduced  by  his  brother  and 
yet  hardly  breathing  in  his  kingdom,  every  possible  assist- 
ance. In  the  early  years  of  liis  reign  he  was  heavily  op- 
pressed by  the  king  of  the  West  Saxons,  but  in  succeeding 
times,  repelling  the  injury  by  the  energy  of  his  measures,  he 
deprived  him  of  the  sovereignty  of  the  Isle  of  Wight ;  and 
leading  it,  yet  panting  after  heathen  rites,  into  the  proper 
path,  he  soon  after  bestowed  it  on  his  godson,  Ethelwalch, 
king  of  the  South  Saxons,  as  a  recompence  for  his  faith. 
But  these  and  all  his  other  good  quahties  are  stained  and 
deteriorated  by  the  dreadful  brand  of  simony;  because  he, 
first  of  the  kings  of  the  Angles,  sold  the  sacred  bishopric 
of  London  to  one  Wini,  an  ambitious  man.  His  wife  was 
Ermenhilda,  the  daughter  of  Erconbert,  king  of  Kent,  of 

72  WILLLA3I   OF    MALMESBTJKY,  [b.  i.  c.  4. 

whom  he  begat  Kinred,  and  Wereburga,  a  most  holy  virgin 
who  lies  buried  at  Chester.  His  brother  Merewald  married 
Ermenburga,  the  daughter  of  Ermenred,  brother  of  the  same 
Ereonbert ;  by  her  he  had  issue,  three  daughters ;  Milburga, 
who  lies  at  Weneloch ;  Mildritha  in  Kent,  in  the  monastery 
of  St.  Augustine  ;  and  Milgitha :  and  one  son,  Merefin.  Al- 
frid  king  of  the  Northumbrians  married  Kyneburg,  daughter 
of  Penda.:  who,  after  a  time,  disgusted  with  wedlock,  took 
the  habit  of  a  nun  in  the  monastery  which  her  brothers, 
Wulfhere  and  Ethelred,  had  founded. 

Wulf  here  died  at  the  end  of  nineteen  years,  and  his  bro- 
ther Ethelred  ascended  the  throne ;  more  famed  for  his  pious 
disposition  than  his  skill  in  war.  Moreover  he  was  satisfied 
with  displaying  his  valour  in  a  single  but  illustrious  expe- 
dition into  Kent,  and  passed  the  remainder  of  his  life  in 
quiet,  except  that  attacking  Egfrid,  king  of  the  Northum- 
brians, who  had  passed  beyond  the  limits  of  his  kingdom, 
he  admonished  him  to  return  home,  by  the  murder  of  his 
brother  Elfwin.  He  atoned  however  for  this  slaughter, 
after  due  deliberation,  at  the  instance  of  St.  Theodore,  the 
archbishop,  by  giving  Egfrid  a  large  sum  of  money.*  Sub- 
sequently to  this,  in  the  thirtieth  year  of  his  reign,  he  took 
the  cowl,  and  became  a  monk  at  Bardney,  of  which  monas- 
tery he  was  ultimately  promoted  to  be  abbat.  This  is  the 
same  person  who  was  contemporary  with  Ina,  king  of  the 
West  Saxons,  and  confirmed  by  his  authority  also  the  privi- 
lege which  St.  Aldhelm  brought  from  Rome.  His  wife  was 
Ostritha,  sister  of  Egfrid,  king  of  the  Northumbrians,  by 
whom  she  had  issue  a  son  named  Ceolred. 

He  appointed  Kenred,  the  son  of  his  brother  Wulfhere  his 
successor,  who,  equally  celebrated  for  piety  to  God  and 
uprightness  towards  his  subjects,  ran  his  mortal  race  with 
great  purity  of  manners,  and  proceeding  to  Rome  in  the 
fifth  year  of  his  reign,  passed  the  remainder  of  his  life  there 
in  the  offices  of  religion  ;  chiefly  instigated  to  this  by  the 
melancholy  departure  of  a  soldier,  who,  as  Bede  relates,  f 

*  This  was  by  paying  to  his  relatives  his  weregild,  or  the  legal  price  of 
his  blood;  for  all,  from  the  king  to  the  slave,  had  their  established  value. 
One  moiety,  only,  of  the  weregild  went  to  the  family  of  the  murdered 
person ;  the  other  went  into  the  public  purse. 

t  Ethelbald  had  been  frequently  exhorted  by  the  king  to  make  con- 
fession of  his  transgressions,  but  had  constantly  declined  it.     At  last  being 

AD  7C9— 756.]  Boniface's  epistle.  73 

disdaining  to  confess  his  crimes  when  in  health,  saw, 
manifestly,  when  at  the  point  of  death,  those  very  demons 
coming  to  punish  him  to  whose  vicious  allurements  he  had 
surrendered  his  soul. 

After  him  reigned  Ceolred,  the  son  of  Ethelred  his  uncle, 
as  conspicuous  for  his  valour  against  Ina,  as  pitiable  for  an 
early  death ;  for  not  filling  the  throne  more  than  eight  years, 
he  was  buried  at  Lichfield,  leaving  Ethelbald,  the  grand- 
nephew  of  Penda  by  his  brother  Alwy,  his  heir.  This  king, 
enjoying  the  sovereignty  in  profound  and  long-continued 
peace,  that  is,  for  the  space  of  forty-one  years,  was  ultimately 
killed  by  his  subjects,  and  thus  met  with  a  reverse  of  fortune. 
Bernred,  the  author  of  his  death,  left  nothing  worthy  of 
record,  except  that  afterwards,  being  himself  put  to  death  by 
Offa,  he  received  the  just  reward  of  his  treachery.  To  this 
Ethelbald,  Boniface,*  archbishop  of  Mentz,  an  Angle  by 
nation,  who  was  subsequently  crowned  with  martyrdom,  sent 
an  epistle,  part  of  wliicli  I  shall  transcribe,  that  it  may 
appear  how  freely  he  asserts  those  very  vices  to  have  already 
gained  ground  among  the  Angles  of  which  Alcuin  in  after 
times  Avas  apprehensive.  It  will  also  be  a  strong  proof,  by 
the  remarkable  deaths  of  certain  kings,  how  severely  God 
punishes  those  guilty  persons  for  whom  his  long-suspended 
anger  mercifully  waits. 

f  "  To  Ethelbald^  my  dearest  lord,  and  to  be  preferred  to 
all  other  kings  of  the  Angles,  in  the  love  of  Christ,  Boniface 
the  archbishop,  legate  to  Germany  from  the  church  of  Rome, 

seized  with  sickness,  he  appears  to  have  imagined  that  he  saw  two  angels 
approach  with  a  very  small  volume,  in  which  were  written  the  iew  good 
actions  he  had  ever  performed  ;  when  immediately  a  large  company  of 
demons  advancing,  display  another  book  of  enormous  bulk  and  weight, 
containing  all  his  evil  deeds,  which  are  read  to  him  ;  after  which,  asserting 
their  claim  to  the  sinner  against  the  angels,  they  strike  him  on  the  head  and 
feet,  as  symptoms  of  his  approaching  end.     Bede,  b.  v.  c.  13. 

*  Boniface,  whose  original  name  was  Winfred,  after  unwearied  labour  ia 
the  conversion  of  various  nations  in  Germany,  by  which  he  acquired  the 
honourable  appellation  of  Apostle  of  the  Germans,  at  length  suffered 
martyrdom  in  Friesland.  A  collected  edition  of  his  works  forms  volumes 
XV.  and  xvi.  of  Patres  Ecclest^  Anglicans  by  the  editor  of  this  work. 
One  of  the  original  churches,  built  by  him  in  Saxony,  still  exists  in  the 
Duchy  of  Gotha,  at  a  little  village  called  Gicrstedt. 

t  See  this  epistle  at  length  in  Spelmanni  Concilia,  vol.  i.  page  232,  and 
reprinted  by  Wilkins,  Concilia,  i.  87,  also  in  Bonifacii  Opera,  &.c. 

74  WILLIAM   OF    BIALMESBURY.  [b.  i.  c.  t 

wisheth,  perpetual  health  in  Christ.  We  confess  before  God 
that  when  we  hear  of  your  prosperity,  your  faith,  and  good 
works,  we  rejoice  ;  and  if  at  any  time  we  hear  of  any 
adversity  befallen  you,  either  in  the  chance  of  war  or  the 
jeopardy  of  your  soul,  we  are  afflicted.  We  have  heard  that, 
devoted  to  almsgiving,  you  prohibit  theft  and  rapine,  are  a 
lover  of  peace,  a  defender  of  widows,  and  of  the  poor  ;  and 
for  this  we  give  God  thanks.  Your  contempt  for  lawful 
matrimony,  were  it  for  chastity's  sake,  would  be  laudable  ; 
but  since  you  wallow  in  luxury  and  even  in  adultery  with 
nuns,  it  is  disgraceful  and  damnable  ;  it  dims  the  brightness 
of  your  glory  before  God  and  man,  and  transforms  you  into 
an  idolater,  because  you  have  polluted  the  temple  of  God. 
Wherefore,  my  beloved  son,  repent,  and  remember  how 
dishonourable  it  is,  that  you,  who,  by  the  grant  of  God,  are 
sovereign  over  many  nations,  should  yourself  be  the  slave  of 
lust  to  his  disservice.  Moreover,  we  have  heard  that  almost 
all  the  nobles  of  the  Mercian  kingdom,  following  your 
example,  desert  their  lawful  wives  and  live  in  guilty 
intercourse  with  adultresses  and  nuns.  Let  the  custom  of  a 
foreign  country  teach  you  how  far  distant  this  is  from 
rectitude.  For  in  old  Saxony,  where  there  is  no  knowledge 
of  Christ,  if  a  virgin  in  her  father's  house,  or  a  married 
woman  under  the  protection  of  her  husband,  should  be  guilty 
of  adultery,  they  burn  her,  strangled  by  her  own  hand,  and 
hang  up  her  seducer  over  the  grave  where  she  is  buried  ;  or 
else,  cutting  off  her  garments  to  the  waist,  modest  matrons 
whip  her  and  pierce  her  with  knives,  and  fresh  tormentors 
punish  her  in  the  same  manner  as  she  goes  from  town  to 
town,  till  they  destroy  her.  Again  the  Winedi,*  the  basest 
of  nations,  have  this  custom — the  wife,  on  the  death  of  her 
husband,  casts  herself  on  the  same  funeral  pile  to  be 
consumed  with  him.  If  then  the  gentiles,  who  know  not 
God,  have  so  zealous  a  regard  for  chastity,  how  much  more 
ought  you  to  possess,  my  beloved  son,  who  are  both  a 
Christian  and  a  king  ?  Spare  therefore  your  own  soul,  spare 
a  multitude  of  people,  perishing  by  your  example,  for  whose 
souls  you  must  give  account.  Give  heed  to  this  too,  if  the 
nation  of  the  Angles,  (and  we  are  reproached  in  France  and 

*  The  Winedi  were  seated  on  the  western  bank  of  the  Vistula,  near  the 
Baltic.     In  Wilkins,  it  is  "  apud  Persas,"  among  the  Persians. 

A.D.  75G.]  Boniface's  epistle.  75 

in  Italy  and  by  the  very  pagans  for  it,)  despising  lawful 
matrimony,  give  free  indulgence  to  adultery,  a  race  ignoble 
and  despising  God  must  necessarily  proceed  from  such  a 
mixture,  which  will  destroy  the  country  by  their  abandoned 
manners,  as  was  the  case  with  the  Burgundians,  Proven9als, 
and  Spaniards,  whom  the  Saracens  harassed  for  many  years 
on  account  of  their  past  transgressions.  Moreover,  it  has 
been  told  us,  that  you  take  away  from  the  churches  and 
monasteries  many  of  their  privileges,  and  excite,  by  your 
example,  your  nobility  to  do  the  like.  But  recollect,  I 
entreat  you,  what  terrible  vengeance  God  hath  inflicted  upon 
former  kings,  guilty  of  the  crime  we  lay  to  your  charge. 
For  Ceolred,  your  predecessor,  the  debaucher  of  nuns,  the 
infringer  of  ecclesiastical  privileges,  was  seized,  while 
splendidly  regaling  with  his  nobles,  by  a  malignant  spirit, 
who  snatched  away  his  soul  without  confession  and  without 
communion,  while  in  converse  with  the  devil  and  despising 
the  law  of  God.  He  drove  Osred  also,  king  of  the  Deirans 
and  Bernicians,  who  was  guilty  of  the  same  crimes,  to  such 
excess  that  he  lost  his  kingdom  and  perished  in  early 
manhood  by  an  ignominious  death.  Charles  also,  governor 
of  the  Franks,  the  subverter  of  many  monasteries  and  the 
appropriator  of  ecclesiastical  revenues  to  his  own  use, 
perished  by  excruciating  pain  and  a  fearful  death."  And 
afterwards,  "Wherefore,  my  beloved  son,  we  entreat  with 
paternal  and  fervent  prayers  that  you  would  not  despise  the 
counsel  of  your  fathers,  who,  for  the  love  of  God,  anxiously 
appeal  to  your  highness.  For  nothing  is  more  salutary  to  a 
good  king  than  the  willing  correction  of  such  crimes  when 
they  are  pointed  out  to  him  ;  since  Solomon  says  '  Whoso 
loveth  instruction,  loveth  wisdom.'  Wherefore,  my  dearest 
son,  showing  you  good  counsel,  we  call  you  to  Avitness,  and 
entreat  you  by  the  living  God,  and  his  Son  Jesus  Christ, 
and  by  the  Holy  Spirit,  that  you  would  recollect  how 
fleeting  is  the  present  life,  how  short  and  momentary  is  the 
delight  of  the  filthy  flesh,  and  how  ignominious  for  a  person 
of  transitory  existence  to  leave  a  bad  example  to  posterity. 
Begin  therefore  to  regulate  your  life  by  better  habits,  and  cor- 
rect the  past  errors  of  your  youth,  that  you  may  have  praise 
before  men  here,  and  be  blest  with  eternal  glory  hereafter. 
We  wish  your  Highness  health  and  proficiency  in  virtue." 

76  WILLIAM   OF    MALMESBUKY.  [b- i- c- 4- 

I  have  inserted  in  my  narrative  portions  of  this  epistle, 
to  give  sufficient  knowledge  of  these  circumstances,  partly  in 
the  words  of  the  author  and  partly  in  my  own,  shortening 
the  sentences  as  seemed  proper,  for  which  I  shall  easily  be 
be  excused,  because  there  was  need  of  brevity  for  the  sake  of 
those  who  were  eager  to  resume  the  thread  of  the  history. 
Moreover,  Boniface  transmitted  an  epistle  of  like  import  to 
archbishop  Cuthbert,  adding  that  he  should  remonstrate 
with  the  clergy  and  nuns  on  the  fineness  and  vanity  of  their 
dress.  Besides,  that  he  might  not  wonder  at  his  interfering 
in  that  in  which  he  had  no  apparent  concern,  that  is  to  say, 
how  or  with  what  manners  the  nation  of  the  Angles  con- 
ducted itself,  he  gave  him  to  understand,  that  he  had  bound 
himself  by  oath  to  pope  Gregory  the  Third,  not  to  conceal 
the  conduct  of  the  nations  near  him  from  the  knowledge  of 
the  apostoUcal  see  ;  wherefore,  if  mild  measures  failed  of  suc- 
cess, he  should  take  care  to  act  in  such  manner,  that  vices  of 
this  kind  should  not  be  kept  secret  from  the  pope.  Indeed, 
on  account  of  the  fine  texture  of  the  clerical  vestments, 
Alcuin  obliquely  glances  at  Athelard  the  archbishop,  Cuth- 
bert's  successor,  reminding  him  that,  when  he  should  come 
to  Rome  to  visit  the  emperor  Charles  the  Great,  the  grandson 
of  Charles  of  whom  Boniface  was  speaking  above,  he  should 
not  bring  the  clergy  or  monks  dressed  in  party-coloured  or 
gaudy  garments,  for  the  clergy  amongst  the  Franks  dressed 
only  in  ecclesiastical  habits. 

Nor  could  the  letters  of  so  great  a  man,  which  he  was 
accustomed  to  send  from  watchful  regard  to  his  legation 
and  pure  love  of  his  country,  be  without  effect.  For  both 
Cuthbert,  the  archbishop,  and  king  Ethelbald  summoned  a 
council  for  the  purpose  of  retrenching  the  superfluities  which 
he  had  stigmatised.  The  acts  of  this  synod,  veiled  in  a 
multiplicity  of  words,  I  shall  forbear  to  add,  as  I  think  they 
will  better  accord  with  another  part  of  my  work,  when  I 
come  to  the  succession  of  the  bishops  :  but  as  I  am  now  on 
the  subject  of  kingly  affairs,  I  shall  subjoin  a  charter  of 
Ethelbald's,  as  a  proof  of  his  devotion,  because  it  took  place 
in  the  same  council. 

"  It  often  happens,  through  the  uncertain  change  of  times, 
that  those  things  which  have  been  confirmed  by  the  testi- 
mony and  advice  of  many  faithful  persons,  have  been  made' 

A.D.  749—777.]  LULLUS OFFA.  77 

of  none  effect  by  the  contumacy  of  very  many,  or  by  the 
artifices  of  deceit,  without  any  regard  to  justice,  unless  they 
have  been  committed  to  eternal  memory  by  the  authority  of 
writing  and  the  testimony  of  charters.  Wherefore  I  Ethel- 
bald,  king  of  the  Mercians,  out  of  love  to  heaven  and  regard 
for  my  own  soul,  have  felt  the  necessity  of  considering  how 
I  may,  by  good  works,  set  it  free  from  every  tie  of  sin.  For 
since  the  Omnipotent  God,  through  the  greatness  of  his 
clemency,  without  any  previous  merit  on  my  part,  hath  be- 
stowed on  me  the  sceptre  of  government,  therefore  I  willingly 
repay  him  out  of  that  which  he  hath  given.  On  this  account 
I  grant,  so  long  as  I  live,  that  all  monasteries  and  churches 
of  my  kingdom  shall  be  exempted  from  public  taxes,  works, 
and  impositions,  except  the  building  of  forts  and  bridges, 
from  which  none  can  be  released.  And  moreover  the  ser- 
vants of  God  shall  have  perfect  liberty  in  the  produce  of 
their  woods  and  lands,  and  the  right  of  fishing,  nor  shall  they 
bring  presents  either  to  king  or  princes  except  voluntarily, 
but  they  shall  serve  God  without  molestation." 

Lullus*  succeeded  Boniface,  an  Englishman  by  birth  also  ; 
of  whose  sanctity  mention  is  made  in  the  life  of  St.  Goar, 
and  these  verses,  which  I  remember  to  have  heard  from  my 
earliest  childhood,  bear  witness  : 

"  Lullus,  than  whom  no  holier  prelate  lives. 
By  God's  assistance  healing  medicine  gives, 
Cures  each  disorder  by  his  powerful  hand, 
And  with  his  glory  overspreads  the  land." 

However,  to  return  to  my  history,  Offa,  descended  from 
Penda  in  the  fifth  degree,  succeeded  Ethelbald.  He  was  a 
a  man  of  great  mind,  and  one  who  endeavoured  to  bring  to 
effect  whatever  he  had  preconceived  ;  he  reigned  thirty-nine 
years.  When  I  consider  the  deeds  of  this  person,  I  am 
doubtful  whether  I  should  commend  or  censure.  At  one 
time,  in  the  same  character,  vices  were  so  palliated  by  virtues, 
and  at  another  virtues  came  in  such  quick  succession  upon 
vices  that  it  is  difficult  to  determine  how  to  characterize  the 
changing  Proteus.  My  narrative  shall  give  examples  of 
each.     Engaging  in  a  set  battle  with  Cynewulf,  king  of  the 

*  Lullus  was  appointed  his  successor  by  Boniface,  on  setting  out  for 
Friesland,  in  755  ;  he  died  a.d.  785. 

78  WILLIAM   OF   MALMESBURT.  [b.i.c.4. 

West  Saxons,  lie  easily  gained  the  victory,  though  the  other 
was  a  celebrated  warrior.  When  he  thought  artifice  would 
better  suit  his  purpose,  this  same  man  beheaded  king  Ethel- 
bert,  who  had  come  to  him  through  the  allurement  of  great 
jromises,  and  was  at  that  very  time  within  the  walls  of  his 
palace,  soothed  into  security  by  his  perfidious  attentions,  and 
then  unjustly  seized  upon  the  kingdom  of  the  East  Angles 
which  Ethelbert  had  held. 

The  relics  of  St.  Alban,  at  that  time  obscurely  buried,  he 
ordered  to  be  reverently  taken  up  and  placed  in  a  shrine, 
decorated  to  the  fullest  extent  of  royal  munificence,  with 
gold  and  jewels  ;  a  church  of  most  beautiful  workmanship 
was  there  erected,  and  a  society  of  monks  assembled.  Yet 
rebellious  against  God,  he  endeavoured  to  remove  the  archi- 
episcopal  see  formerly  settled  at  Canterbury,  to  Lichfield, 
envying^  forsooth,  the  men  of  Kent  the  dignity  of  the  arch- 
bishopric :  on  which  account  he  at  last  deprived  Lambert, 
the  archbishop,  worn  out  with  continual  exertion,  and  who 
produced  many  edicts  of  the  apostolical  see,  both  ancient  and 
modern,  of  all  possessions  within  his  territories,  as  well  as 
of  the  jurisdiction  over  the  bishoprics.  From  pope  Adrian, 
therefore,  whom  he  had  wearied  with  plausible  assertions  for 
a  long  time,  as  many  things  not  to  be  granted  may  be  gradu- 
ally drawn  and  artfully  wrested  from  minds  intent  on  other 
occupations,  he  obtained  that  there  should  be  an  archbishopric 
of  the  Mercians  at  Lichfield,  and  that  all  the  prelates  of  the 
Mercians  should  be  subject  to  that  province.  Their  names 
were  as  follow  :  Denebert,  bishop  of  Worcester,  Werenbert, 
of  Leicester,  Edulph,  of  Sidnacester,  Wulpheard,  of  Here- 
ford ;  and  the  bishops  of  the  East  Angles,  Alpheard,  of  Elm- 
ham,  Tidfrid,  of  Dunwich  ;  the  bishop  of  Lichfield  was 
named  Aldulph.  Four  bishops  however  remained  suffragan 
to  Lambert,  archbishop  of  Canterbury,  London,  Winchester, 
Rochester,  and  Selsey.  Some  of  these  bishoprics  are  now  in 
being,  some  are  removed  to  other  places,  others  consolidated 
by  venal  interest,  for  Leicester,  Sidnacester,  and  Dunwich, 
from  somfe  unknown  cause,  are  no  longer  in  existence.  Nor 
did  Offii's  rapacity  stop  here,  for  he  showed  himself  a  down- 
right pubHc  pilferer,  by  converting  to  his  own  use  the  lands 
of  many  churches,  of  which  Malmesbury  was  one.  But  this 
iniquity  did  not  long  deform  canonical  institutions,  for  soon 

A-D-790.]  kenulf's  epistle.  79 

after  Kenulf,  Offa's  successor,  inferior  to  no  preceding  king 
in  power  or  in  faith,  transmitted  a  letter  to  Leo,  the  successor 
of  Adrian,  and  restored  Athelard  who  had  succeeded  Lambert, 
to  his  former  dignity.  Hence  Alcuin,  in  an  epistle  to  the 
same  Athelard,  says  "  Having  heard  of  the  success  of  your 
journey,  and  your  return  to  your  country,  and  how  you  were 
received  by  the  pope,  I  give  thanks  with  every  sentiment  of 
my  heart  to  the  Lord  our  God,  who,  by  the  precious  gift  of 
his  mercy,  directed  your  way  with  a  prosperous  progress, 
gave  you  favour  in  the  sight  of  the  pope,  granted  you  to 
return  home  with  the  perfect  accomplishment  of  your  wishes, 
and  hath  condescended,  through  you,  to  restore  the  holiest 
seat  of  our  first  teacher  to  its  pristine  dignity."  I  think  it 
proper  to  subjoin  part  of  the  king's  epistle  and  also  of  the 
pope's,  though  I  may  seem  by  so  doing  to  anticipate  the 
regular  order  of  time  ;  but  I  shall  do  it  on  this  account,  that 
it  is  a  task  of  greater  difficulty  to  blend  together  disjointed 
facts  than  to  despatch  those  I  had  begun. 

"  To  the  most  holy  and  truly  loving  lord  Leo,  pontiff  of 
the  sacred  and  apostolical  see,  Kenidf,  by  the  grace  of  God 
king  of  the  Mercians,  ivith  the  bishops,  princes,  and  every 
degree  of  dignity  under  our  authority,  sendeth  the  salutation 
of  the  purest  love  in  Christ. 

a  Yie  give  thanks  ever  to  God  Almighty,  who  is  wont,  by 
the  means  of  new  guides,  the  former  being  taken  to  the  life 
eternal,  to  guide  the  church,  purchased  by  his  precious 
blood,  amid  the  diverse  storms  of  this  world,  to  the  haven  of 
salvation,  and  to  shed  fresh  light  upon  it,  in  order  that  it  be 
led  into  no  error  of  darkness,  but  may  pursue  the  path  of 
truth  without  stumbling  ;  wherefore  the  universal  church 
justly  rejoices,  that  when  the  true  rewarder  of  all  good  men 
took  the  most  glorious  pastor  of  his  flock,  Adrian,  to  be  eter- 
nally rewarded  in  heaven,  still  his  kind  providence  gave  a 
shepherd  to  his  flock,  not  less  skilled,  to  conduct  the  sheep 
of  God  into  the  fold  of  life.  We  also,  who  live  on  the 
farthest  confines  of  the  world,  justly  boast,  beyond  all  other 
things,  that  the  church's  exaltation  is  our  safety,  its  pros- 
perity our  constant  ground  of  joy  ;  since  your  apostolical 
dignity  and  our  true  faith  originate  from  the  same  source. 
Whentfore  I  deem  it  fitting  to  incline  the  ear  of  our  obe- 
dience, with  all  due  humility,  to  your  holy  commands,  and 

8b  WILLIAM   OF    MALMESBURT.  {li.  i.  c.  i. 

to  fulfil,  with  every  possible  endeavour,  what  shall  seem  just 
to  your  piety  for  us  to  accomplish  :  but  to  avoid,  and  utterly 
reject,  all  that  shall  be  found  inconsistent  with  right.  But 
now,  I,  Kenulf,  by  the  grace  of  God  king,  humbly  entreat 
your  excellence  that  I  may  address  you  as  I  wish,  without 
offence,  on  the  subject  of  our  progress,  that  you  may  receive 
me  with  peaceful  tranquillity  into  the  bosom  of  your  piety, 
and  that  the  liberal  bounty  of  your  benediction  may  quahfy 
me,  gifted  with  no  stock  of  merit,  to  rule  my  people  ;  in 
order  that  God  may  deign,  through  your  intercession,  to  de- 
fend the  nation,  which,  together  with  me,  your  apostolical 
authority  has  instructed  in  the  rudiments  of  the  faith,  against 
all  attacks  of  adversaries,  and  to  extend  that  kingdom  which 
he  hath  given.  This  benediction  all  the  Mercian  kings  be- 
fore me  were,  by  your  predecessors,  deemed  worthy  to  ob- 
tain. This,  I  humbly  beg,  and  this,  0  most  holy  man,  I 
desire  to  receive,  that  you  would  more  especially  accept  me 
as  a  son  by  adoption,  as  I  love  you  as  my  father,  and  always 
honour  you  with  all  possible  obedience.  For  among  such 
great  personages  faith  ever  should  be  kept  inviolate,  as  well 
as  perfect  love,  because  paternal  love  is  to  be  looked  upon  as 
filial  happiness  in  God,  according  to  the  saying  of  Hezekiah, 
*  A  fjither  will  make  known  thy  truth  to  his  sons,  O  Lord.' 
In  which  words  I  implore  you,  O  loved  father,  not  to  deny 
to  your  unworthy  son  the  knowledge  of  the  Lord  in  your 
holy  words,  in  order  that,  by  your  sound  instruction,  I  may 
deserve,  by  the  assistance  of  God,  to  come  to  a  better  course 
of  life.  And  moreover,  O  most  affectionate  father,  we  beg, 
with  all  our  bishops,  and  every  person  of  rank  among  us, 
that,  concerning  the  many  inquiries  on  which  we  have 
thought  it  right  to  consult  your  wisdom,  you  would  cour- 
teously reply,  lest  the  traditions  of  the  holy  fathers  and  their 
instructions  should,  through  ignorance,  be  misunderstood  by 
us  ;  but  let  your  reply  reach  us  in  charity  and  meekness, 
that,  through  the  mercy  of  God,  it  may  bring  forth  fruit  in 
us.  The  first  thing  our  bishops  and  learned  men  allege  is, 
that,  contrary  to  the  canons  and  papal  constitutions  enacted 
for  our  use  by  the  direction  of  the  most  holy  father  Gregory, 
as  you  know,  the  jurisdiction  of  the  metropolitan  of  Canter- 
bury is  divided  into  two  provinces,  to  whose  power,  by  the 
same  father's  command,  twelve  bishops  ought  to  be  subject, 

A.D.790.]  kenulf's  epistle.  '         81 

as  is  read  througliout  our  churches,  in  the  letter  which  he 
directed  to  his  brother  and  fellow  bishop,  Augustine,  con- 
cerning the  two  metropolitans  of  London  and  York,  which 
letter  doubtlessly  you  also  possess.  But  that  pontifical  dig- 
nity, which  was  at  that  time  destined  to  London,  with  the 
honour  and  distinction  of  the  pall,  was,  for  his  sake,  removed 
and  granted  to  Canterbury.  For  since  Augustine,  of  blessed 
memory,  who,  at  the  command  of  St.  Gregory,  preached  the 
word  of  God  to  the  nation  of  the  Angles,  and  so  gloriously 
presided  over  the  church  of  the  Saxons,  died  in  that  city, 
and  liis  body  was  buried  in  the  church  of  St.  Peter,  the  chief 
of  apostles,  which  his  successor  St.  Laurentius  consecrated, 
it  seemed  proper  to  the  sages  of  our  nation,  that  the  metro- 
politan dignity  should  reside  in  that  city  where  rests  the 
body  of  the  man  who  planted  the  true  faith  in  these  parts. 
The  honour  of  this  pre-eminence,  as  you  know,  king  Offa 
first  attempted  to  take  away  and  to  divide  it  into  two  pro- 
vinces, through  enmity  against  the  venerable  Lambert  and 
the  Kentish  people  ;  and  your  pious  brother  and  predecessor, 
Adrian,  at  the  request  of  the  aforesaid  king,  first  did  what 
no  one  had  before  presumed,  and  honoured  the  prelate  of  the 
Mercians  with  the  pall.  But  yet  we  blame  neither  of  these 
persons,  whom,  as  we  believe,  Christ  crowns  with  eternal 
glory.  Nevertheless  we  humbly  entreat  your  excellence,  on 
whom  God  hath  deservedly  conferred  the  key  of  wisdom, 
that  you  would  consult  with  your  counsellors  on  this  subject, 
and  condescend  to  transmit  to  us  what  may  be  necessary  for 
us  to  observe  hereafter,  and  what  may  tend  to  the  unity  of 
real  peace,  as  we  wish,  through  your  sound  doctrine,  lest  the 
coat  of  Christ,  woven  throughout  without  seam,  should  suffer 
any  rent  among  us.  We  have  written  this  to  you,  most  holy 
father,  with  equal  humility  and  regard,  earnestly  entreating 
your  clemency,  that  you  would  kindly  and  justly  reply  to 
those  things  which  have  been  of  necessity  submitted  to  you. 
Moreover  we  wish  that  you  would  examine,  with  pious  love, 
that  epistle  which,  in  the  presence  of  all  our  bishops, 
Athelard  the  archbishop  wrote  to  you  more  fully  on  the  sub- 
ject of  his  own  aff'airs  and  necessities,  as  well  as  on  those  of 
all  Britain  ;  that  whatever  the  rule  of  faith  requires  in  those 
matters  wliich  are  contained  therein,  you  would  condescend 
truly  to  explain.     Wherefore  last  year  I  sent  my  own  em- 


S2  WILLIAM   OP   MALMESBUEY.  [b.  i.  c  4. 

bassy,  and  that  of  the  bishops  by  Wada  the  abbat,  which  he 
received,  but  idly  and  foolishly  executed.  I  now  send  you  a 
small  present  as  a  token  of  regard,  respected  father,  by 
Birine  the  priest,  and  Fildas  and  Ceolbert,  my  servants,  that 
is  to  say,  one  hundred  and  twenty  mancuses,  *  together  with 
letters,  begging  that  you  would  condescend  to  receive  them 
kindly,  and  give  us  your  blessing.  May  God  Almighty  long 
preserve  you  safe  to  the  glory  of  his  holy  church." 

"  To  the  most  excellent  prince,  my  son  Kenulf,  king  of 
the  Mercians,  of  the  province  of  the  Saxons,  pope  Leo 
sendeth  greeting.  Our  most  holy  and  reverend  brother 
Athelard,  archbishop  of  Canterbury,  arriving  at  the  holy 
churches  of  the  blessed  apostles  Peter  and  Paul,  as  well  for 
the  faithful  performance  of  his  vow  of  prayer  as  to  acquaint 
us  with  the  cause  of  his  ecclesiastical  mission  to  the  aposto- 
lical see,  hath  brought  to  us  the  enclosures  of  your  royal  ex- 
cellence, where  finding,  in  two  epistles  filled  with  true  faith, 
your  great  humility,  we  return  thanks  to  Almighty  God,  who 
hath  taught  and  inclined  your  most  prudent  excellence  to 
have  due  regard  with  us  in  all  things  towards  St.  Peter,  the 
chief  of  apostles,  and  to  submit  with  meekness  to  all  apostoli- 
cal constitutions.  Moreover,  in  one  of  these  epistles  we  find 
that,  were  it  requisite,  you  would  even  lay  down  your  life 
for  us,  for  the  sake  of  our  apostolical  office.  And  again,  you 
confess  that  you  rejoice  much  in  the  Lord  at  our  prosperity, 
and  that  when  these  our  letters  of  kindest  admonition  reach 
the  ears  of  your  cordiality,  you  will  receive  them  with  all 
humility  and  spiritual  joy  of  heart,  as  sons  do  the  gift  of  a 
father.  It  is  added  too  that  you  had  ordered  a  small  present 
out  of  your  abundance  to  be  offered  to  us,  an  hundred  and 
twenty  mancuses,  which,  with  ardent  desire  for  the  salva- 
tion of  your  soul,  we  have  accepted.  The  aforesaid  arch- 
bishop, with  his  attendants,  has  been  honourably  and  kindly 
received  by  us,  and  has  been  rendered  every  necessary  assist- 
ance. In  the  meantime,  trusting  to  your  most  prudent  ex- 
cellence when  you  observe,  even  in  your  own  royal  letters, 
that  no  Christian  can  presume  to  run  counter  to  our  aposto- 

*  The  value  of  the  mancus  is  doubtful ;  sometimes  it  appears  to  mean 
the  same  with  the  mark,  at  others  it  is  supposed  equal  to  thirty  pence  of 
the  money  of  that  time.  The  gold  manca  is  supposed  to  be  eight  to  the 
pound,  which  was  probably  the  coin  sent  to  the  pope. 

AD.  787.J  POPE   LEO*S   EPISTLE.  83 

lical  decisions,  we  therefore  endeavour,  witli  all  possible  dili- 
gence, to  transmit  and  ordain  what  shall  be  of  service  to  your 
kingdom,  that  as  a  canonical  censure  enjoins  your  royal  ex- 
cellence, and  all  the  princes  of  your  nation,  and  the  whole 
people  of  God,  to  observe  all  things  which  the  aforesaid 
archbishop  Athelard  our  brother,  or  the  whole  body  of  the 
evangelical  and  apostolical  doctrine  and  that  of  the  holy 
fathers  and  of  our  predecessors  the  holy  pontiffs  ordain,  you 
ought  by  no  means  to  resist  their  orthodox  doctrine  in  any 
thing,  as  our  Lord  and  Saviour  says  in  the  Gospel,  "  He  who 
receiveth  you  receiveth  me,"  and  "  he  who  receives  a  prophet, 
in  the  name  of  a  prophet,  shall  receive  a  prophet's  reward." 
And  how  much  more  do  we  praise  the  Almighty  for  this 
same  lord  archbishop,  whom  you  have  so  highly  commended 
to  us  as  being,  what  he  really  is,  honourable,  and  skilful, 
and  prudent,  of  good  morals,  worthy  before  God  and  men. 
O  loving  son  and  excellent  king,  we  praise  God,  that  hath 
pointed  out  to  you  a  prelate  who,  like  a  true  shepherd,  is  able 
to  prescribe  due  penance,  according  to  the  doctrine  of  the 
holy  Scriptures,  and  to  rescue  the  souls  of  those  who  are 
under  his  sacerdotal  authority  from  the  nethermost  hell, 
snatching  them  from  inextinguishable  fire,  bringing  them 
into  the  haven  of  salvation,  and  offering  for  them  to  God 
Almighty  a  sacrifice,  fit  and  pure  in  the  sight  of  the  Divine 
Majesty.  And  since  the  aforesaid  archbishop  hath  pleased 
us  extremely  in  every  respect,  in  all  holiness  and  conversa- 
tion of  life,  confiding  much  to  him,  we  give  him  such  pre- 
latical  power  by  the  authority  of  St.  Peter,  the  chief  of  the 
apostles,  whose  office,  though  unworthily,  we  fill,  that  if  any 
in  his  province,  as  well  kings  and  princes  as  people,  shall 
transgress  the  commandments  of  the  Lord,  he  shall  excom- 
municate him  until  he  repent ;  and  if  he  remain  impenitent, 
let  him  be  to  you  as  an  heathen  and  a  publican.  But  with 
respect  to  the  aforesaid  Athelard,  archbishop  of  Canterbury, 
since  your  excellent  prelates  have  demanded  from  us  that  we 
do  him  justice  concerning  the  jurisdiction  which  he  lately 
held,  as  well  of  bishops  as  monasteries,  and  of  which  he  has 
been  unjustly  deprived,  as  you  know,  and  which  have  been 
taken  from  his  venerable  see :  we,  making  most  dihgent 
search,  have  found  in  our  sacred  depository,  that  St.  Gregory, 
our  predecessor,  dehvered  that  diocese  to  his  deputed  arch- 


84  '  WILLIAM  OF   MALMESBHRY.  [b.  i.  c.  4. 

bishop  St.  Augustine,  with  the  right  of  consecrating  bishops, 
to  the  full  number  of  twelve.  Hence  we  also,  having  ascer- 
tained the  truth,  have,  by  our  apostolical  authority,  placed  all 
ordinations  or  confirmations  on  their  ancient  footing,  and  do 
restore  them  to  him  entire,  and  we  deliver  to  him  the  grant 
of  our  confirmation,  to  be  duly  observed  by  his  church, 
according  to  the  sacred  canons." 

In  the  meantime  Offa,  that  the  outrages  against  his 
countrymen  might  not  secretly  tend  to  his  disadvantage,  in 
order  to  conciliate  the  favour  of  neighbouring  kings,  gave 
his  daughter  Eadburga  in  marriage  to  Bertric,  king  of 
the  West  Saxons  ;  and  obtained  the  amity  of  Charles  the 
Great,  king  of  the  Franks,  by  repeated  embassies,  though 
he  could  find  little  in  the  disposition  of  Charles  to  second 
his  views.  They  had  disagreed  before,  insomuch  that  violent 
feuds  having  arisen  on  both  sides,  even  the  intercourse  of 
traders  was  prohibited.  There  is  an  epistle  of  Alcuin  to 
this  efiect,  part  of  which  I  shall  subjoin,  as  it  affords  a  strong 
proof  of  the  magnanimity  and  valour  of  Charles,  who  spent 
all  his  time  in  war  against  the  Pagans,  rebels  to  God.  He 
says,*  "  The  ancient  Saxons  and  all  the  Friesland  nations 
were  converted  to  the  faith  of  Christ  through  the  exertions 
of  king  Charles,  urging  some  with  threats,  and  others  with 
rewards.  At  the  end  of  the  year  the  king  made  an  attack 
upon  the  Sclavonians  and  subjugated  them  to  his  power. 
The  Avares,  whom  we  call  Huns,  made  a  furious  attempt 
upon  Italy,  but  were  conquered  by  the  generals  of  the  afore- 
said most  Christian  king,  and  returned  home  with  disgrace. 
In  like  manner  they  rushed  against  Bavaria,  and  were  again 
overcome  and  dispersed  by  the  Christian  army.  Moreover 
the  princes  and  commanders  of  the  same  most  Christian 
king  took  great  part  of  Spain  from  the  Saracens,  to  the  ex- 
tent of  three  hundred  miles  along  the  sea  coast :  but,  O 
shame  !  these  accursed  Saracens,  who  are  the  Hagarens, 
have  dominion  over  the  whole  of  Africa,  and  the  larger  part 
of  Asia  Major.  I  know  not  what  will  be  our  destination,  for 
some  ground  of  difference,  fomented  by  the  devil,  has  arisen 
between  king  Charles  and  king  Offa,  so  that,  on  both  sides, 

*  See  this  entire,  Usserii  Veterum  Epistolarum  Hibernicarum  Sylloge, 
epist.  18.  p.  36  ;  and  Alcuini  Opera,  torn.  i.  p.  6,  epist.  3. 

A.D.  787.]  EPISTLE   OF    CHAKLEMAGNE.  85 

all  navigation  is  prohibited  the  merchants.     Some  say  that 
we  are  to  be  sent  into  those  parts  to  treat  of  peace." 

In  these  words,  in  addition  to  what  I  have  remarked  above, 
any  curious  person  may  determine  how  many  years  have 
elapsed  since  the  Saracens  invaded  Africa  and  Asia  Major. 
And  indeed,  had  not  the  mercy  of  God  animated  the  native 
spirit  of  the  emperors  of  the  Franks,  the  pagans  had  long 
since  subjugated  Europe  also.  For,  holding  the  Constanti- 
nopolitan  emperors  in  contempt,  they  possessed  themselves  of 
Sicily  and  Sardinia,  the  Balearic  isles,  and  almost  all  the 
countries  surrounded  by  the  sea,  with  the  exception  of  Crete, 
Rhodes,  and  Cyprus.  In  our  time  however  they  have  been 
compelled  to  rehnquish  Sicily  by  the  Normans,  Corsica  and 
Sardinia  by  the  Pisans,  and  great  part  of  Asia  and  Jerusa- 
lem itself  by  the  Franks  and  other  nations  of  Europe.  But, 
as  I  shall  have  a  fitter  place  to  treat  largely  of  these  matters 
hereafter,  I  shall  now  subjoin,  from  the  words  of  Charles 
himself,  the  treaty  which  was  ratified  between  him  and  Offa 
king  of  the  Mercians. 

"  Charles,  by  the  grace  of  God  king  of  the  Franks  and 
Lombards,  and  patrician  of  the  Romans,  to  his  esteemed  and 
dearest  brother  Offa  king  of  the  Mercians,  sendeth  health  : — 
First,  we  give  thanks  to  God  Almighty  for  the  purity  of  the 
Catholic  faith,  which  we  find  laudably  expressed  in  your 
letters.  Concerning  pilgrims,  who  for  the  love  of  God  or 
the  salvation  of  their  souls,  wish  to  visit  the  residence  of  the 
holy  apostles,  let  them  go  peaceably  without  any  molestation ; 
but  if  persons,  not  seeking  the  cause  of  religion,  but  that  of 
gain,  be  found  amongst  them,  let  them  pay  the  customary 
tolls  in  proper  places.  We  will,  too,  that  traders  have  due 
protection  within  our  kingdom,  according  to  our  mandate, 
and  if  in  any  place  they  suffer  wrongful  oppression,  let  them 
appeal  to  us  or  to  our  judges,  and  we  will  see  full  justice 
done.  Let  your  kindness  also  be  apprized  that  we  have  sent 
some  token  of  our  regard,  out  of  our  dalmatics*  and  palls,  to 
each  episcopal  see  of  your  kingdom  or  of  Ethelred's,  as  an 

•  The  dalmatic  was  a  garment  worn  by  the  clergy,  and  sometimes  by 
princes.  Its  name  is  said  to  have  been  derived  from  its  invention  in  Dal- 
matia.  The  pall  here  apparently  signifies  an  upper  vesture  also,  in  form 
resembling  a  cloak  without  sleeves  ;  but  it  has  a  variety  of  meanings.  See 
Du  Cange,  and  note  at  p.  44,  of  Bede's  Eccles.  History. 

86  WILLIAM   OF   MALMESBUEY.  [b.i.  c.4. 

almsgiving,  on  account  of  our  apostolical  lord  Adrian,  earnestly 
begging  that  you  would  order  him  to  be  prayed  for,  not  as 
doubting  that  his  blessed  soul  is  at  rest,  but  to  show  our 
esteem  and  regard  to  our  dearest  friend.  Moreover  we  have 
sent  somewhat  out  of  the  treasure  of  those  earthly  riches, 
wliich  the  Lord  Jesus  hath  granted  to  us  of  his  unmerited 
bounty,  for  the  metropolitan  cities,  and  for  yourself  a  belt,  an 
Hungarian  sword,  and  two  silk  cloaks." 

I  have  inserted  these  brief  extracts  from  the  epistle  that 
posterity  may  be  clearly  acquainted  with  the  friendship  of 
Offa  and  Charles  ;  confiding  in  which  friendly  intercourse, 
although  assailed  by  the  hatred  of  numbers,  he  passed  the 
rest  of  his  life  in  uninterrupted  quiet,  and  saw  Egfert  his 
son  anointed  to  succeed  him.  This  Egfert  studiously  avoided 
the  cruel  path  trod  by  his  father,  and  devoutly  restored  the 
privileges  of  all  the  churches  which  Offa  had  in  his  time 
abridged.  The  possessions  also  which  his  father  had  taken 
from  Malmesbury  he  restored  into  the  hands  of  Cuthbert, 
then  abbat  of  that  place,  at  the  admonition  of  the  aforesaid 
Athelard  archbishop  of  Canterbury,  a  man  of  energy  and  a 
worthy  servant  of  God,  and  who  is  uniformly  asserted  to 
have  been  its  abbat  before  Cuthbert,  from  the  circumstance 
of  his  choosing  there  to  be  buried.  But  while  the  hopes  of 
Egfert^s  noble  qualities  were  ripening,  in  the  first  moments 
of  his  reign,  untimely  death  cropped  the  flower  of  his  youth- 
ful prime  ;  on  which  account  Alcuin  writing  to  the  patrician 
Osbert,  says,  "  I  do  not  think  that  the  most  noble  youth  Eg- 
fert died  for  his  own  sins,  but  because  his  father,  in  the  es- 
tablishment of  his  kingdom,  shed  a  deluge  of  blood."  Dying 
after  a  reign  of  four  months,  he  appointed  Kenulf,  nephew 
of  Penda  in  the  fifth  degree  by  his  brother  Kenwalk,  to  suc- 
ceed him. 

Kenulf  was  a  truly  great  man,  and  surpassed  his  fame  by 
his  virtues,  doing  nothing  that  malice  could  justly  find  fault 
with.  Religious  at  home,  victorious  abroad,  his  praises  will 
be  deservedly  extolled  so  long  as  an  impartial  judge  can  be 
found  in  England.  Equally  to  be  admired  for  the  extent  of 
his  power  and  for  the  lowliness  of  his  mind  ;  of  which  he 
gave  an  eminent  proof  in  restoring,  as  we  have  related,  its 
faltering  dignity  to  Canterbury,  he  little  regarded  earthly  gran- 
deur in  his  own  kingdom  at  the  expense  of  deviating  from 

A.D.  796—825.]  KENELM — ^WITHLAF.  87 

anciently-enjoined  canons.  Taking  up  Offa's  hatred  against 
the  Kentish  people,  he  sorely  afflicted  that  province,  and  led 
away  captive  their  king  Eadbert,  surnamed  Pren  ;  but  not 
long  after,  moved  with  sentiments  of  pity,  he  released  him. 
For  at  Winchelcombe,  where  he  had  built  a  church  to  God, 
which  yet  remains,  on  the  day  of  its  dedication  he  freed  the 
captive  king  at  the  altar,  and  consoled  him  with  liberty  ; 
thereby  giving  a  memorable  instance  of  his  clemency. 
Cuthred,*  whom  he  had  made  king  over  the  Kentish  people, 
was  present  to  applaud  this  act  of  royal  munificence.  The 
church  resounded  with  acclamations,  the  street  shook  with 
crowds  of  people,  for  in  an  assembly  of  thirteen  bishops  and 
ten  dukes,  no  one  was  refused  a  largess,  all  departed  with 
full  purses.  Moreover,  in  addition  to  those  presents  of  in- 
estimable price  and  number  in  utensils,  clothes,  and  select 
horses,  which  the  chief  nobility  received,  he  gave  to  all  who 
did  not  possess  landed  property  f  a  pound  of  silver,  to  each 
presbyter  a  marca  of  gold,  to  every  monk  a  shilling,  and 
lastly  he  made  many  presents  to  the  people  at  large.  After 
he  had  endowed  the  monastery  with  such  ample  revenues  as 
would  seem  incredible  in  the  present  time,  he  honoured  it  by 
his  sepulture,  in  the  twenty-fourth  year  of  his  reign.  His 
son  Kenelm,  of  tender  age,  and  undeservedly  murdered  by 
his  sister  Quendrida,  gained  the  title  and  distinction  of  mar- 
tyrdom, and  rests  in  the  same  place. 

After  him  the  kingdom  of  the  Mercians  sank  from  its 
prosperity,  and  becoming  nearly  lifeless,  produced  nothing 
worthy  to  be  mentioned  in  history.  However,  that  no  one 
may  accuse  me  of  leaving  the  history  imperfect,  I  shall  glance 
over  the  names  of  the  kings  in  succession.  Ceolwulf,  the 
brother  of  Kenulf,  reigning  one  year  was  expelled  in  the 
second  by  Bernulf ;  who  in  the  third  year  of  his  reign  being 
overcome  and  put  to  flight  by  Egbert,  king  of  the  West 
Saxons,  was  afterwards  slain  by  the  East  Angles,  because 
he  had  attempted  to  seize  on  East  Anglia,  as  a  kingdom  sub- 
ject to  the  Mercians  from  the  time  of  Offa.     Ludecan,  after 

•  Kenulf  made  Cuthred  king  of  Kent,  a.d.  798.  Eadbert  had  been 
dreadfully  mutilated  by  having  his  eyes  put  out  and  his  hands  cut  off. 
See  chap.  i. 

t  "  Qui  agros  non  habebant."  These  words  refer  to  an  inferior  class  of 
geutry,  as  he  mentions  the  people  at  large,  "  populus,"  afterwards. 

88  WILLIAM   OF   MALMESBURY.  [b.i.c.5. 

a  reign  of  two  years,  was  despatched  hj  these  Angles,  as  he 
was  preparing  to  avenge  his  predecessor  :  Withlaf,  subjuga- 
ted in  the  commencement  of  his  reign  by  the  before-men- 
tioned Egbert,  governed  thirteen  years,  paying  tribute  to 
him  and  to  his  son,  both  for  his  person  and  his  property  : 
Berthwulf  reigning  thirteen  years  on  the  same  conditions, 
was  at  last  driven  by  the  Danish  pirates  beyond  the  sea : 
Burhred  marrying  Ethelswith,  the  daughter  of  king  Ethel- 
wulf,  the  son  of  Egbert,  exonerated  himself,  by  this  affinity, 
from  the  payment  of  tribute  and  the  depredations  of  the 
enemy,  but  after  twenty-two  years,  driven  by  them  from  his 
country,  he  fled  to  Rome,  and  was  there  buried  at  the  school 
of  the  Angles,  in  the  church  of  St.  Mary  ;  his  wife,  at  that 
time  continuing  in  this  country,  but  afterwards  following  her 
husband,  died  at  Pavia.  The  kingdom  was  next  given  by 
the  Danes  to  one  Celwulf,  an  attendant  of  Burhred's,  who 
bound  himself  by  oath  that  he  would  retain  it  only  at  their 
pleasure  :  after  a  few  years  it  fell  under  the  dominion  of 
Alfred,  the  grandson  of  Egbert.  Thus  the  sovereignty  of 
the  Mercians,  which  prematurely  bloomed  by  the  overween- 
ing ambition  of  an  heathen,  altogether  withered  away  through 
the  inactivity  of  a  driveller  king,  in  the  year  of  our  Lord's 
incarnation  eight  hundred  and  seventy -five. 

CHAP.  V. 

Of  the  kings  of  the  East  Angles,     [a.d.  520—905.] 

As  my  narrative  has  hitherto  treated  of  the  history  of  the 
four  more  powerful  kingdoms  in  as  copious  a  manner,  I  trust, 
as  the  perusal  of  ancient  writers  has  enabled  me,  I  shall  now, 
as  last  in  point  of  order,  run  through  the  governments  of  the 
East  Angles  and  East  Saxons,  as  suggested  in  my  preface. 
The  kingdom  of  the  East  Angles  arose  anterior  to  the  West 
Saxons,  though  posterior  to  the  kingdom  of  Kent.  The  first  * 
and  also  the  greatest  king  of  the  East  Angles  was  Redwald, 
tenth  in  descent  from  Woden  as  they  affirm  ;  for  all  the 
southern  provinces  of  the  Angles  and  Saxons  on  this  side  of 

*  Redwald  was  not  the  first  king  of  East  Anglia,  but  the  first  who  be- 
came distinguished.  In  the  year  571,  UfFa  assumed  the  title  of  king  :  he 
was  succeeded  by  his  son,  Titil,  in  578  who  was  followed  by  Redwald,  hia 
son.    See  Bede,  b.  ii.  c.  15, 

A.D.  61G— 703.]  EORPWALD EDMUND.  89 

the  river  Humber,  with  their  kings,  were  subject  to  bis  autho- 
rity.    This  is  the  person  whom  I  have  formerly  mentioned 
as  having,  out  of  regard  for  Edwin,  killed  Ethelfrid,  king  of 
the  Northumbrians.     Through  the  persuasion  of  Edwin  too 
he  was  baptized  :  and  after,   at  the  instigation  of  his  wife, 
abjured  the  faith.     His  son,  Eorpwald,  embraced  pure  Chris- 
tianity, and  poured  out  his  immaculate  spirit  to  God,  being 
barbarously  murdered  by  the  heathen  Richbert.     To  him 
succeeded  Sigebert,  his  brother  by  the  mother's  side,  a  wor- 
thy servant  of  the  Lord,  polished  from  all  barbarism  by  his 
education  among  the  Franks.    For,  being  driven  into  banish- 
ment by  Redwald,  and  for  a  long  time  associating  with  them, 
he  had  received  the  rites  of  Christianity,   which,    on   his 
coming  into  power  he  graciously  communicated  to  the  whole 
of  his  kingdom,  and  also  instituted  schools  of  learning  in 
different  places.     This  ought  highly  to  be  extolled  :    as  men 
heretofore  uncivilized  and  irreligious,  were  enabled,  by  his 
means,  to  taste  the  sweets  of  literature.     The  promoter  of 
his  studies  and  the  stimulator  of  his  religion  was  Felix  the 
bishop,  a  Burgundian  by  birth,  who  now  lies  buried  at  Ram- 
sey.    Sigebert  moreover  renouncing  the  world  and  taking 
the  monastic  vow,  left  the  throne  to  his  relation,  Ecgric, 
with  whom,  being  attacked  in  intestine  war  by  Penda,  king 
of  the  Mercians,  he  met  his  death,  at  the  moment  when, 
superior  to  his  misfortunes,  and  mindful  of  his  religious  pro- 
fession, he  held  only  a  wand  in  his  hand.     The  successor  of 
Ecgric  was  Anna,  the  son  of  Eni,  the  brother  of  Redwald, 
involved  in  similar  destruction  by  the  same  furious  Penda  ; 
he  was  blessed  -wdth  a  numerous  and  noble  offspring,  as  the 
second  book  will  declare  in  its  proper  place.     To  Anna  suc- 
ceeded his  brother  Ethelhere,  who  was  justly  slain  by  Oswy 
king  of  the  Northumbrians,  together  with  Penda,  because  he 
was  an  auxiliary  to  him,  and  was  actually  supporting  the 
very  army  which  had  destroyed  his  brother  and  liis  kinsman. 
His  brother  Ethelwald,  in  due  succession,  left  the  kingdom 
to  Adulf  and  Elwold,  the  sons  of  Ethelhere.     Next  came 
Bernred.     After  him  Ethelred.     His  son  was  St.  Ethelbert, 
whom  Offa  king  of  the  Mercians  killed  through  treachery,  as 
has  already  been  said,  and  will  be  repeated  hereafter.     After 
him,  through  the  violence  of  the  Mercians,  few  kings  reigned 
in  Eastern  Anglia  till  the  time  of  St.  Edmund,  and  he  was 

90  WILLIAM   OF   MALMESBURY.  [b.  i.  c.  6. 

despatched  in  the  sixteenth  year  of  his  reign,  by  Hingwar,  a 
heathen  ;  from  which  time  the  Angles  ceased  to  command  in 
their  own  country  for  fifty  years.  For  the  province  was 
nine  years  without  a  king,  owing  to  the  continued  devasta- 
tions of  the  pagans ;  afterwards  both  in  it  and  in  East  Sax- 
ony, Gothrun,  a  Danish  king,  reigned  for  twelve  years,  in 
the  time  of  king  Alfred.  Gothrun  had  for  successor  a  Dane 
also,  by  name  Eohric,  who,  after  he  had  reigned  fourteen 
years,  was  taken  off  by  the  Angles,  because  he  conducted 
himself  with  cruelty  towards  them.  Still,  however,  liberty 
beamed  not  on  this  people,  for  the  Danish  earls  continued  to 
oppress  them,  or  else  to  excite  them  against  the  kings  of  the 
West  Saxons,  till  Edward,  the  son  of  Alfred,  added  both 
provinces  to  his  own  West  Saxon  empire,  expelling  the 
Danes  and  freeing  the  Angles.  This  event  took  place  in  the 
fiftieth  year  after  the  murder  of  St.  Edmund,  king  and  mar- 
tyr, and  in  the  fifteenth  *  of  his  own  reign. 


Of  the  kings  of  the  East  Saxons,     [a.  d.  520—823. 

Nearly  co-eval  with  the  kingdom  of  the  East  Angles,  was 
that  of  the  East  Saxons  ;  wliich  had  many  kings  in  succes- 
sion, though  subject  to  others,  and  principally  to  those  of  the 
Mercians.  First,  then,  Sleda,f  the  tenth  from  Woden, 
reigned  over  them  ;  whose  son,  Sabert,  nephew  of  St.  Ethel- 
bert,  king  of  Kent,  by  his  sister  Ricula,  embraced  the  faith 
of  Christ  at  the  preaching  of  St.  Mellitus,  first  bishop  of 
London  ;  for  that  city  belongs  to  the  East  Saxons.  On  the 
death  of  Sabert,  his  sons,  Sexred  and  Seward,  drove  Melli- 
tus into  banishment,  and  soon  after,  being  killed  by  the  West 
Saxons,  they  paid  the  penalty  of  their  persecution  against 
Christ.  Sigbert,  surnamed  the  Small,  the  son  of  Seward, 
succeeding,  left  the  kingdom  to  Sigebert,  the  son  of  Sigebald, 

*  According  to  the  Saxon  Chronicle,  a.d.  921,  that  is,  the  21st  of  Ed- 
ward the  Elder,  and  the  fiftieth  from  the  murder  of  king  Edmund.  Now 
following  this  statement,  as  Edward  succeeded  his  father,  Alfred  a.d.  901, 
the  expulsion  of  the  Danes  would  be  the  twentieth  of  his  reign.  In  Flo- 
rence of  Worcester  the  union  of  the  kingdoms  under  Edward  the  Elder  is 
assigned  to  the  year  918. — Hardy. 

+  Sleda  was  not  the  first,  but  their  times  are  uncertain.  See  Florence 
of  Worcester,  who  calls  him  the  son  of  Esc  wine,  whom  Henry  of  Hunting- 
don considers  to  have  been  the  first  king  of  Essex. 

A.D.  653—823.]  OF  THE  KINGS  OF  KENT.  91 

who  was  the  brother  of  Sabert.  This  Sigehert,  at  the  ex- 
hortation of  king  Oswy,  was  baptized  in  Northumbria  by 
bishop  Finan,  and  brought  back  to  his  nation,  by  the  ministry 
of  bishop  Cedd,*  the  faith  which  they  had  expelled  together 
with  Mellitus.  After  gloriously  governing  the  kingdom,  he 
left  it  in  a  manner  still  more  glorious  ;  for  he  was  murdered  by 
his  near  relations,  merely  because,  in  conformity  to  the  gos- 
pel-precept, he  used  kindly  to  spare  his  enemies,  nor  regard 
with  harsh  and  angry  countenance,  if  they  were  penitent, 
those  who  had  offended  him.  His  brother  Suidelm,  baptized 
by  the  same  Cedd  in  East  Anglia,  succeeded.  On  his  death, 
Sighere,  the  son  of  Sigbert  the  Small,  and  Sebbi,  the  son  of 
Seward,  held  the  sovereignty.  Sebbi's  associate  dying,  he 
himself  voluntarily  retired  from  the  kingdom  in  his  thirtieth 
year,  becoming  a  monk,  as  Bede  relates.  His  sons  Sighard  and 
Suefred  reigned  after  him.  On  their  decease  Offa,  the  son 
Sighere,  governed  the  kingdom  for  a  short  time  ;  a  youth  of 
engaging  countenance  and  disposition,  in  the  flower  of  his 
age,  and  highly  beloved  by  his  subjects.  He,  through  the 
persuasion  of  Kyneswith,  daughter  of  king  Penda,  whom  he 
had  anxiously  sought  in  marriage,  being  taught  to  aspire 
after  heavenly  affections,  went  to  Rome  with  Kenred  king  of 
the  Mercians,  and  St.  Edwin  bishop  of  Worcester  ;  and 
there  taking  the  vow,  in  due  time  entered  the  heavenly  man- 
sions. To  him  succeeded  Selred,  son  of  Sigebert  the  Good, 
during  thirty-eight  years  ;  who  being  slain,  Swithed  assumed 
the  sovereignty  of  the  East  Saxons  ;f  but  in  the  same  year 
that  Egbert  king  of  the  West  Saxons  subdued  Kent,  being 
expelled  by  him,  he  vacated  the  kingdom  ;  though  London, 
with  the  adjacent  country,  continued  subject  to  the  kings  of 
the  Mercians  as  long  as  they  held  their  sovereignty. 

The  kings  of  Kent,  it  is  observed,  had  dominion  peculi- 
arly in  Kent,  in  which  are  two  sees  ;  the  archbishopric  of 
Canterbury,  and  the  bishopric  of  Rochester. 

•  Brother  to  St.  Chad,  bishop  of  Lichfield.    See  Bede,  b.  iii.  c.  22. 

t  Here  seems  an  oversight  which  may  be  supplied  from  Florence  of 
Worcester.  "  Swithed  succeeded  Selred,  and  held  the  sovereignty  some 
years  ;  after  whom  few  native  kings  ruled  in  Essex,  for  in  the  same  year 
that  Egbert  conquered  Kent,  they  surrendered  to  his  power."  Selred  died 
746 ;  their  submission  took  place  823.  It  would  appear,  however,  from 
the  authorities  adduced  by  Mr.  Turner,  Hist,  of  Aiglo-Saxons,  vol.  i.  p. 
318,  that  Selred  was  in  fact  king  of  East- Anglia. 

92  WILLIAM    OF    MALSIESBURY.  [b.i.  c.6. 

The  kings  of  the  West  Saxons  ruled  in  Wiltshire,  Berk- 
hire,  and  Dorsetshire  ;  in  which  there  is  one  bishop,  whose 
see  is  now  at  Sarum  or  Salisbury  ;  formerly  it  was  at  Rams- 
bury,  or  at  Sherborne  :  in  Sussex,  which  for  some  little  time 
possessed  a  king  of  its  own  ;*  the  episcopal  see  of  this 
county  was  anciently  in  the  island  of  Selsey,  as  Bede  relates, 
where  St.  Wilfrid  built  a  monastery  ;  the  bishop  now  dwells 
at  Chichester  :  in  the  (bounties  of  Southampton  and  Surrey ; 
which  have  a  bishop,  whose  see  is  at  Winchester  :  in  the 
county  of  Somerset,  which  formerly  had  a  bishop  at  Wells, 
but  now  at  Bath  :  and  in  Domnonia,  now  called  Devonshire, 
and  Cornubia,  now  Cornwall ;  at  that  time  there  were  two 
bishoprics,  one  at  Crediton,  the  other  at  St.  German's  ;  now 
there  is  but  one,  and  the  see  is  at  Exeter. 

The  kings  of  the  Mercians  governed  the  counties  of  Glou- 
cester, Worcester,  and  Warwick  ;  in  these  is  one  bishop 
whose  residence  is  at  Worcester  :  in  Cheshire,  Derbyshire, 
and  Staffordshire  ;  these  have  one  bishop,  who  has  part  of 
Warwicksliire  and  Shropshire  ;  his  residence  is  at  the  city 
of  Legions,  that  is  Chester  or  Coventry  ;  formerly  it  was  at 
Liclifield  :  in  Herefordshire  ;  and  there  is  a  bishop  having 
half  Shropshire  and  part  of  Warwickshire,  and  Gloucester- 
shire ;  whose  residence  is  at  Hereford  :  in  Oxfordshire, 
Buckinghamshire,  Hertfordshire,  Huntingdonshire,  half  of 
Bedfordshire,  Northamptonshire,  Leicestershire,  Lincoln- 
shire ;  which  counties  are  under  the  jurisdiction  of  a  bishop 
now  resident  at  Lincoln,  but  formerly  at  Dorchester  in  the 
county  of  Oxford  :  in  Leicestershire  and  Nottinghamshire, 
which  belong  to  the  diocese  of  York  ;  formerly  they  had 
their  own  bishop,  whose  seat  was  at  Leicester. 

The  kings  of  the  East  Angles  had  dominion  over  the 
county  of  Cambridge  ;  there  is  a  bishop,  whose  seat  is  at 
Ely :  and  in  Norfolk  and  Suffolk :  whose  see  is  at  Norwich ; 
formerly  at  Elmham  or  Thetford. 

The  kings  of  the  East  Saxons  ruled  in  Essex,  in  Middle- 

*  The  kingdom  of  Sussex  was  founded  by  MUa,  who  arrived  in  Britain 
with  three  vessels,  and  accompanied  by  his  three  sons,  a.d.  477.  He  seems 
to  have  attained  a  very  high  degree  of  power,  and  was  succeeded  by  his 
son  Cissa. — The  affairs' of  this  kingdom  are  extremely  obscure  ;  it  appears 
to  have  been  sometimes  dependent  on  Kent  and  sometimes  on  Wessex 
until  finally  united  to  the  latter  by  Egbert,  a.d.  823. 

A.D.  800.J  PROLOGUE  TO  BOOK  H.  93 

sex,  and  half  of  Hertfordshire  ;  where  there  anciently  was, 
and  still  remains,  the  bishop  of  London. 

The  kings  of  the  Northumbrians  governed  all  the  country 
which  is  beyond  the  river  Humber,  even  into  Scotland  ;  and 
there  were  the  archbishop  of  York,  the  bishops  of  Hexham, 
of  Ripon,  of  Lindisfarne,  and  of  Candida  Casa  [Whitherne]  ; 
Hexham  and  Ripon  are  no  more  ;  Lindisfarne  is  translated 
to  Durham. 

Such  were  the  divisions  of  the  kingdom  of  England, 
although  the  kings,  according  to  the  vicissitude  of  the  times, 
now  one,  and  then  the  other,  would  exceed  their  boundaries 
through  their  courage,  or  lose  them  by  their  indolence  ;  but 
all  these  several  kingdoms  Egbert  subjugated  by  his  abilities, 
and  consoKdated  into  one  empire,  reserving  to  each  their  own 
laws.  Wherefore,  since  I  have  passed  beyond  his  times,  ful- 
filling my  promise  in  a  review  of  the  different  periods,  I  will 
here  fix  the  limits  of  my  first  volume,  that  the  various  tracks 
of  the  different  kingdoms  may  unite  in  the  general  path  of 
the  West  Saxon  Empire. 

BOOK  11. 

A  LONG  period  has  elapsed  since,  as  well  through  the  care  of 
my  parents  as  my  own  industry,  I  became  familiar  with 
books.  This  pleasure  possessed  me  from  my  childhood  :  this 
source  of  delight  has  grown  with  my  years.  Indeed  I  was 
so  instructed  by  my  father,  that,  had  I  turned  aside  to  other 
pursuits,  I  should  have  considered  it  as  jeopardy  to  my  soul 
and  discredit  to  my  character.  Wherefore  mindful  of  the 
adage  "covet  what  is  necessary,"  I  constrained  my  early 
age  to  desire  eagerly  that  which  it  was  disgraceful  not  to 
possess.  I  gave,  indeed,  my  attention  to  various  branches  of 
literature,  but  in  different  degrees.  Logic,  for  instance, 
which  gives  arms  to  eloquence,  I  contented  myself  with 
barely  hearing.  Medicine,  which  ministers  to  the  health  of 
the  body,  I  studied  with  somewhat  more  attention.  But 
now,  having  scrupulously  examined  the  several  branches  of 

94  WILLIAM  OF   MALMESBUET.  [b.  ii.  c.  1. 

Ethics,  I  bow  down  to  its  majesty,  because  it  spontaneously 
unveils  itself  to  those  who  study  it,  and  directs  their  minds 
to  moral  practice  ;  History  more  especially ;  which,  by  an 
agreeable  recapitulation  of  past  events,  excites  its  readers,  by 
example,  to  frame  their  lives  to  the  pursuit  of  good,  or  to 
aversion  from  evil.  When,  therefore,  at  my  own  expense,  I 
had  procured  some  historians  of  foreign  nations,  I  proceeded, 
during  my  domestic  leisure,  to  inquire  if  any  thing  con- 
cerning our  own  country  could  be  found  worthy  of  handing 
down  to  posterity.  Hence  it  arose,  that,  not  content  with 
the  writings  of  ancient  times,  I  began,  myself,  to  compose  ; 
not  indeed  to  display  my  learning,  which  is  comparatively 
nothing,  but  to  bring  to  light  events  lying  concealed  in  the 
confused  mass  of  antiquity.  In  consequence  rejecting  vague 
opinions,  I  have  studiously  sought  for  chronicles  far  and  near, 
though  I  confess  I  have  scarcely  profited  any  thing  by  this 
industry.  For  perusing  them  all,  I  still  remained  poor  in 
information  ;  though  I  ceased  not  my  researches  as  long  as  I 
could  find  any  thing  to  read.  However,  what  I  have  clearly 
ascertained  concerning  the  four  kingdoms,  I  have  inserted  in 
my  first  book,  in  which  I  hope  truth  will  find  no  cause  to 
blush,  though  perhaps  a  degree  of  doubt  may  sometimes 
arise.  I  shall  now  trace  the  monarchy  of  the  West  Saxon 
kingdom,  through  the  line  of  successive  princes,  down  to  the 
coming  of  the  Normans  :  which  if  any  person  will  conde- 
scend to  regard  with  complacency,  let  him  in  brotherly  love 
observe  the  following  rule  :  "  If  before,  he  knew  only  these 
things,  let  him  not  be  disgusted  because  I  have  inserted 
them  ;  if  he  shall  know  more,  let  him  not  be  angry  that  I 
have  not  spoken  of  them  ; "  but  rather  let  him  communicate 
his  knowledge  to  me,  while  I  yet  live,  that  at  least,  those 
events  may  appear  in  the  margin  of  my  history,  which  do 
not  occur  in  the  text. 

CHAP.  I. 

TJie  history  of  king  Egbert,     [a.d.  800—839.] 
My  former  volume  terminated  where  the  four  kingdoms  of 
Britain  were  consolidated  into  one.     Egbert,  the  founder  of 
this  sovereignty,  grand-nephew  of  king  Ina,  by  his  brother 
Ingild,    of    high   rank   in   his   own    nation,    and    liberally 

A.D.  800-828.]  OF   KING  EGBERT.  95 

educated,  had  been  conspicuous  among  the  West  Saxons 
from  his  childhood.  His  uninterrupted  course  of  valour 
begat  envy,  and  as  it  is  almost  naturally  ordained  that  kings 
should  regard  with  suspicion  whomsoever  they  see  growing 
up  in  expectation  of  the  kingdom,  Bertric,  as  before  related, 
jealous  of  his  rising  character,  was  meditating  how  to 
destroy  him.  Egbert,  apprised  of  this,  escaped  to  Offa,  king 
of  the  Mercians.  While  Offa  concealed  him  with  anxious 
care,  the  messengers  of  Bertric  arrived,  demanding  the 
fugitive  for  punishment,  and  offering  money  for  his  sur- 
render. In  addition  to  this  they  solicited  his  daughter  in 
marriage  for  their  king,  in  order  that  the  nuptial  tie  might 
bind  them  in  perpetual  amity.  In  consequence  Offa,  who 
would  not  give  way  to  hostile  threats,  yielded  to  flattering 
allurements,  and  Egbert,  passing  the  sea,  went  into  France  ; 
a  circumstance  which  I  attribute  to  the  counsels  of  God,  that 
a  man  destined  to  rule  so  great  a  kingdom  might  learn  the 
art  of  government  from  the  Franks  ;  for  this  people  has  no 
competitor  among  all  the  Western  nations  in  military  skill 
or  polished  manners.  This  ill-treatment  Egbert  used  as  an 
incentive  to  "  rub  off  the  rust  of  indolence,"  to  quicken  the 
energy  of  his  mind,  and  to  adopt  foreign  customs,  far 
differing  from  his  native  barbarism.  On  the  death,  therefore, 
of  Bertric,  being  invited  into  Britain  by  frequent  messages 
from  his  friends,  he  ascended  the  throne,  and  reahzed  the 
fcMidest  expectations  of  his  country.  He  was  crowned  in  the 
year  of  our  Lord's  incarnation  800,  and  in  the  thirty-fourth 
year  of  the  reign  of  Charles  the  Great,  of  France,  who 
survived  this  event  twelve  years.  In  the  meantine  Egbei-t, 
when  he  had  acquired  the  regard  of  his  subjects  by  his 
affability  and  kindness,  first  manifested  his  power  against 
those  Britons  who  inhabit  that  part  of  the  island  which  is 
called  Cornwall,  and  having  subjugated  them,  he  proceeded 
to  make  the  Northern  Britons,*  who  are  separated  from,  the 
others  by  an  arm  of  the  sea,  tributary  to  him.  While  the 
fame  of  these  victories  struck  terror  into  the  rest,  Bernulf 
king  of  the  Mercians,  aiming  at  something  great,  and 
supposing  it  would  redound  to  his  glory  if  he  could  remove 
the  terror  of  others  by  his  own  audacity,  proclaimed  war 

*  The  early  adventures  of  Egbert  are  found  only  in  Malmesbury.     He 
does  not  observe  the  order  in  which  these  events  happened. 

96  WILLIAM   OF   MALMESBURT.  [b.  ir.  c.  1. 

against  Egbert.  Deeming  it  disgraceful  to  retreat,  Egbert 
met  liim  with  much  spirit,  and  on  then  coming  into  action, 
Bernulf  was  defeated  and  fled.  This  battle  took  place  at 
Hellendun,  a.d.  824.*  Elated  with  this  success,  the  West 
Saxon  king,  extending  his  views,  in  the  heat  of  victory,  sent 
his  son  Ethelwulf,  with  Alstan,  bishop  of  Sherborne,  and  a 
chosen  band,  into  Kent,  for  the  purpose  of  adding  to  the 
West  Saxon  dominions  that  province,  which  had  either 
grown  indolent  through  long  repose,  or  was  terrified  by  the 
fame  of  his  valour.  These  commanders  observed  their 
instructions  effectually,  for  they  passed  through  every  part 
of  the  country,  and  driving  Baldred  its  king,  with  little 
difficulty,  beyond  the  river  Thames,  they  subjugated  to  his 
dominion,  in  the  twenty-fourth  year  of  his  reign,  Kent, 
Surrey,  the  South  Saxons,  and  the  East  Saxons,  who  had 
formerly  been  under  the  jurisdiction  of  his  predecessors. 
Not  long  after  the  East  Angles,  animated  by  the  support  of 
Egbert,  killed  by  successive  stratagems,  Bernulf  and 
Ludecan,  kings  of  the  Mercians.  The  cause  of  their 
destruction  was,  their  perpetual  incursions,  with  their  usual 
insolence,  on  the  territories  of  others.  Withlaf  their 
successor,  first  di'iven  from  his  kingdom  by  Egbert,  and 
afterwards  admitted  as  a  tributary  prince,  augmented  the 
West  Saxon  sovereignty.  In  the  same  year  the  Northum- 
brians perceiving  that  themselves  only  remained  and  were  a 
conspicuous  object,  and  fearing  lest  he  should  pour  out  hi^ 
long-cherished  anger  on  them,  at  last,  though  late,  gave 
hostages,  and  yielded  to  his  power.  When  he  was  thus 
possessed  of  all  Britain,  the  rest  of  his  life,  a  space  of  nine 
years,  passed  quietly  on,  except  that,  nearly  in  his  latter  days, 
a  piratical  band  of  Danes  made  a  descent,  and  disturbed  the 
peace  of  the  kingdom.  So  changeable  is  the  lot  of  human 
affairs,  that  he,  who  first  singly  governed  all  the  Angles, 
could  derive  but  little  satisfaction  from  the  obedience  of  his 
countrymen,  for  a  foreign  enemy  was  perpetually  harassing 

*  The  printed  text  of  the  former  editions  places  the  battle  of  Hellendun, 
A.D.  806.  Several  MSS.  have  826,  one  825,  and  two  only  appear  to  adopt 
the  correct  year  824,  as  inserted  above.  These  are — The  Arundel  MS. 
No.  35,  Brit.  Mus.  and  the  MS.  in  Trinity  Coll.  Cam.  R.  14.  The  place 
is  variously  conjectured  :  Wilton  in  Wiltshire  ;  Hillingdon  in  Middlesex ; 
and  near  Highworth  in  Wilts. 

A.D.  838— 851.  OF    KING   ETHELAYULF.  •  97 

him  and  his  descendants.  Against  these  invaders  the  forces 
of  the  Angles  made  a  stand,  but  fortune  no  longer  flattered 
the  king  with  her  customary  favours,  but  deserted  him  in  the 
contest :  for,  when,  during  the  greater  part  of  the  day,  he 
had  almost  secured  the  victory,  he  lost  the  battle  as  the  sun 
declined  ;  however,  by  the  favour  of  darkness,  he  escaped 
the  disgrace  of  being  conquered.  In  the  next  action,  with  a 
small  force,  he  totally  routed  an  immense  multitude.  At 
length,  after  a  reign  of  thirty-seven  years  and  seven  months, 
he  departed  this  life,  and  was  buried  at  Winchester  ;  leaving 
an  ample  field  of  glory  for  his  son,  and  declaring,  that  he 
must  be  happy,  if  he  was  careful  not  to  destroy,  by  the 
indolence  natural  to  his  race,  a  kingdom  that  himself  had 
consolidated  with  such  consummate  industry. 


Of  king  Etheliviilf.     [a.d.  839—858.] 

In  the  year  of  our  Lord's  incarnation  837,*  Ethelwulf,  whom 
some  call  Athulf,  the  son  of  Egbert,  came  to  the  throne,  and 
reigned  twenty  years  and  five  months.  Mild  by  nature  he 
infinitely  preferred  a  life  of  tranquillity  to  dominion  over 
many  provinces  ;  and,  finally,  content  with  liis  paternal 
kingdom,  he  bestowed  all  the  rest,  which  his  father  had  sub- 
jugated, on  his  son  Ethelstan  ;  of  whom  it  is  not  known 
when,  or  in  what  manner,  he  died.  He  assisted  Burhred, 
king  of  the  Mercians,  with  an  army  against  the  Britons,  and 
highly  exalted  him  by  giving  him  his  daughter  in  marriage. 
He  frequently  overcame  the  piratical  Danes,  who  were  tra- 
versing the  whole  island  and  infesting  the  coast  with  sudden 
descents,  both  personally  and  by  his  generals  ;  although, 
according  to  the  chance  of  war,  he  himself  experienced 
great  and  repeated  calamities  ;  London  and  almost  the  whole 
of  Kent  being  laid  waste.  Yet  these  disasters  were  ever 
checked  by  the  alacrity  of  the  king's  advisers,  who  sufi*ered 
not  the  enemy  to  trespass  with  impunity,  but  fuUy  avenged 
themselves  on  them  by  the  efiect  of  their  united  counsels. 
For  he  possessed  at  that  time,  two  most  excellent  prelates, 

*  Malmesbury,  in  following  the  Saxon  Chronicle,  is  two  years  earlier 
than  the  Northern  Chronicles. 


S8  .  WILLIAM   OF   MAiMESBURT.  Is.  u.  c.  2. 

St.  Smthun  of  Winchester,  and  Ealstan  of  Sherborne,  who 
perceiving  the  king  to  be  of  heavy  and  sluggish  disposition, 
perpetually  stimulated  him,  by  their  admonitions,  to  the 
knowledge  of  governing.  Swithun,  disgusted  with  earthly, 
trained  his  master  to  heavenly  pursuits  ;  Ealstan,  knowing 
that  the  business  of  the  kingdom  ought  not  to  be  neglected, 
continually  inspirited  him  against  the  Danes  :  himself  fur- 
nishing the  exchequer  with  money,  as  well  as  regulating  the 
army.  Any  peruser  of  the  Annals*  will  find  many  affairs 
of  this  kind,  both  entered  on  with  courage,  and  terminated 
with  success  through  his  means.  He  held  his  bishopric 
fifty  years ;  happy  in  living  for  so  long  a  space  in  the  prac- 
tice of  good  works.  I  should  readily  commend  him,  had  he 
not  been  swayed  by  worldly  avarice,  and  usurped  what  be- 
longed to  others,  when  by  his  intrigues  he  seized  the  monas- 
tery of  Malmesbury  for  his  own  use.  We  feel  the  mischief 
of  this  shameful  conduct  even  to  the  present  day,  although 
the  monastery  has  bafiled  all  similar  violence  from  the  time 
of  his  death  till  now,  when  it  has  fallen  again  into  like  difii- 
culty.")"  Thus  the  accursed  passion  of  avarice  corrupts  the 
human  soul,  and  forces  men,  though  great  and  illustrious 
in  other  respects,  into  heU. 

Ethelwulf,  confiding  in  these  two  supporters,  provided 
effectually  for  external  emergencies,  and  did  not  neglect  the 
interior  concerns  of  his  kingdom.  For  after  the  subjugation 
of  his  enemies,  turning  to  the  establishment  of  God's  wor- 
ship, he  granted  every  tenth  hide  of  land  within  his  king- 
dom to  the  servants  of  Christ,  free  from  all  tribute,  exempt 
from  all  services.  But  how  small  a  portion  is  this  of  his 
glory  ?  Having  settled  his  kingdom,  he  went  to  Rome,  and 
there  offered  to  St.  P^ter  that  tribute  which  England  pays  to 
this  day,  I  before  pope  Leo  the  fourth,  who  had  also,  formerly, 

»  See  Saxon  Chronicle,  a.d.  823—825. 

+  Roger,  bishop  of  Salisbury,  seized  it  in  like  manner  to  his  own  use, 
A.D.  1118,  and  held  it  till  his  death,  1159. 

t  Alluding  to  the  Rome-scot,  or  Peter's-pence,  a  penny  from  each 
house,  paid  on  the  festival  of  St.  Peter.  Its  origin  and  application  seem 
obscure  :  Higden  interpolates  Malmesbury,  as  assigning  its  first  grant  to 
Ina  :  Henry  of  Huntingdon  says,  Offa.  This  grant  is  supposed  by  Spel- 
man  to  have  been  made  in  a  General  Council  of  the  nation.  A  similar 
payment  appears  to  have  been  made  by  other  nations.  It  is  to  be  observed 
that  Asser  mentions  only  Ethelwulf 's  donation  of  three  hundred  mancusea. 

A.D.814— S40.]  SUCCESSORS  OF  CHAKLEr.IAGNE.  .99 

honourably  received,  and  anointed  as  king,  Alfred,*  his  son, 
whom  Ethelwulf  had  sent  to  him.  Continuing  there  a  whole 
year,  he  nobly  repaired  the  School  of  the  Angles,  which, 
according  to  report,  was  first  founded  by  Offa,  king  of  the 
Mercians,  and  had  been  burned  down  the  preceding  year.f 
Returning  home  through  France,  he  married  J.udith,  daugh- 
ter of  Charles,  king  of  the  Franks. 


For  Louis  the  Pious,  son  of  Charles  the  Great,  had  four 
sons  ;  Lothaire,  Pepin,  Louis,  and  Charles,  surnamed  the 
Bald ;  of  these  Lothaire,  even  in  liis  father's  life-time, 
usurping  the  title  of  emperor,  reigned  fifteen  years  in  that 
part  of  Germany  situated  near  the  Alps  which  is  now  called 
Lorraine,  that  is,  the  kingdom  of  Lothaire,  and  in  all  Italy 
together  with  Rome.  In  his  latter  days,  afflicted  Tvdth  sick- 
ness, he  renounced  the  world.  He  was  a  man  by  far  more 
inhuman  than  all  who  preceded  him  ;  so  much  so,  as  even 
frequently  to  load  his  own  father  with  chains  in  a  dungeon. 
Louis  indeed  was  of  mild  and  simple  manners,  but  he  was 
unmercifully  persecuted  by  Lothaire,  because  Ermengarda, 
by  whom  he  had  his  first  family,  being  dead,  he  was  doat- 
ingly  fond  of  Charles,  his  son  by  his  second  wife  Judith. 

*  Asser  relates  that  pope  Leo  stood  sponsor  for,  and  confirmed  Alfred, 
who  had  been  sent  to  Rome  by  his  father  the  preceding  year. 

+  The  conflagration  here  named  seems  that  mentioned  by  Anastasius, 
who  tells  us,  that,  shortly  after  the  accession  of  Pope  Leo  the  fourth,  a 
fire  broke  out  in  the  Saxon  street,  but  the  pope,  making  the  sign  of  the 
cross  with  his  fingers,  put  a  stop  to  it.  (Anastas.  Biblioth.  p.  319.)  From 
this  author's  account  it  appears  to  have  been  a  street  or  quarter  of  con- 
siderable extent,  and  near  to  St.  Peter's.  There  were  schools  of  this  kind 
belonging  to  various  nations  at  Rome.  Matt.  Westminster  says  it  was 
foimded  by  Ina,  with  the  consent  and  approbation  of  Pope  Gregory,  that 
priests,  nobles,  prelates,  or  kings,  of  the  English  nation,  might  be  enter- 
tained there  during  their  stay  for  the  purpose  of  being  thoroughly  instructed 
in  the  Catholic  faith  ;  for  that,  from  the  time  of  Augustine,  the  doctrine  and 
schools  of  the  English  had  been  interdicted  by  the  popes  on  account  of  the 
various  heresies  which  had  sprung  up  among  them  ;  that,  moreover,  Ina  be- 
stowed a  penny  from  each  house,  or  Rome-scot,  for  the  support  of  these 
persons.  (Matt.  West,  a.d,  727.)  It  was  destroyed  by  fire  in  the  year 
816,  and  partially  again  a.d.  854.  Our  text,  therefore,  is  at  variance  with 
the  account  given  by  Anastasius,  and  the  latter  is  probably  incorrect. 


100  WILLIAM  OF  MALMESBURY.  [b.  ii.  c.  2. 

Pepin,  another  son  of  Louis,  had  dominion  in  Aquitaine* 
and  Gascony.  Louis,  the  tliird  son  of  Louis,  in  addition 
to  Norica,  which  ne  had  already,  possessed  the  kingdoms 
which  liis  father  had  given  him,  that  is  to  say,  Alemannia, 
Thuringia,  Austrasia,  Saxony,  and  the  kingdom  of  the 
Avares,  that  is,  the  Huns.  Charles  obtained  the  half  oi 
France  on  the  west,  and  all  Neustria,  Brittany,  and  the 
greatest  part  of  Burgundy,  Gothia,  Gascony,  and  Aquitaine, 
Pepin  the  son  of  Pepin  being  ejected  thence  and  compelled 
to  become  a  monk  in  the  monastery  of  St.  Methard  ;  who 
afterwards  escaping  by  flight,  and  returning  into  Aquitaine, 
remained  there  in  concealment  a  long  time ;  but  being  again 
treacherously  deceived  by  Ranulph  the  governor,  he  was 
seized,  brought  to  Charles  at  Senlis,  and  doomed  to  perpetual 
exile.  Moreover,  after  the  death  of  the  most  pious  emperor, 
Louis,  Lothaire,  who  had  been  anointed  emperor  eighteen 
years  before  his  father's  decease,  being  joined  by  Pepin  with 
the  people  of  Aquitaine,  led  an  army  against  his  brothers, 
that  is,  Louis,  the  most  pious  king  of  the  Bavarians,  and 
Charles,  into  the  county  of  Auxerre  to  a  place  called  Fonte- 
nai  :f  where,  when  the  Franks  with  all  their  subject  nations 
had  been  overwhelmed  by  mutual  slaughter,  Louis  and 
Charles  ultimately  triumphed  ;  Lothaire  being  put  to  flight. 
After  this  most  sanguinary  conflict,  however,  peace  was 
made  between  them,  and  they  divided  the  sovereignty  of  the 
Franks,  as  has  been  mentioned  above.  Lothaire  had  three 
sons  by  Ermengarda  the  daughter  of  Hugo  :  first,  Louis,  to 
whom  he  committed  the  government  of  the  Romans  and  of 
Italy ;  next,  Lothaire,  to  whom  he  left  the  imperial  crown  ; 
lastly,  Charles,  to  whom  he  gave  Provence.  Lothaire  died 
in  the  year  of  our  Lord's  incarnation  855,  of  his  reign  the 

*  The  divisions  of  France  were  liable  to  considerable  variation  :  but  it 
may  be  sufficient  to  observe,  that  Aquitaine  lay  between  the  Garonne  and 
Loire ;  Vasconia,  from  the  Garonne  to  the  Pyrenees ;  Gothia,  from  the 
Pyrenees  along  the  coast  to  the  eastward ;  Austrasia  or  East  France,  be- 
sides various  tracts  beyond  the  Rhine,  lay  between  that  river  and  the 
Meuse ;  Neustria  or  West  France,  from  the  Channel  to  the  Loire  with 
the  exception  of  Brittany. 

t  The  battle  of  Fontenai  is  considered  as  the  most  calamitous  in  the 
French  annals  ;  more  than  one  hundred  thousand  men  having,  it  is  said, 
perished  in  it.  It  was  fought  on  the  25th  of  June,  a.d.  ^^1,  a  memorable 
month  in  the  annals  of  Fiance. 


thirty-third.  Charles  his  son,  who  governed  Provence,  sur- 
vived him  eight  years,  and  then  Louis,  emperor  of  the  Ro- 
mans, and  Lothaire  his  brother,  shared  his  kingdom  of 
Provence.  But  Louis  king  of  the  Norici,  that  is,  of  the 
Bavarians,  the  son  of  Louis  the  emperor,  in  the  year  of  our 
Lord's  incarnation  865,  after  the  feast  of  Easter,  divided  his 
kingdom  between  his  sons.  To  Caroloman  he  gave  Norica, 
that  is,  Bavaria,  and  the  marches  bordering  on  the  Sclavo- 
nians  and  the  Lombards  ;  to  Louis,  Thuringia,  the  Eastern 
Franks,  and  Saxony;  to  Charles  he  left  Alemannia,  and 
Curnw alia, that  is,  the  county  of  Cornwall.*  Louis  him- 
self reigned  happily  over  his  sons,  in  full  power  for  ten 
years,  and  then  died  in  the  year  of  our  Lord's  incarnation 
876,  when  he  had  reigned  fifty-four  years.  Charles  king  of 
the  West  Franks,  in  the  thirty-sixth  year  of  his  reign,  enter- 
ing Italy,  came  to  offer  up  his  prayers  in  the  church  of  the 
apostles,  and  was  there  elected  emperor  by  all  the  Roman 
people,  and  consecrated  by  pope  John  on  the  2oth  of  Decem- 
ber, in  the  year  of  our  Lord's  incarnation  875.  Thence  he 
had  a  prosperous  return  into  Gaul.  But  in  the  thirty-eighth 
year  of  his  reign,  and  the  beginning  of  the  third  of  his  im- 
perial dignity,  he  went  into  Italy  again,  and  held  a  conference 
with  pope  John  ;  and  returning  into  Gaul,  he  died,  after 
passing  Mount  Cenis,  on  the  13th  of  October,  in  the  tenth 
of  the  Indiction,  in  the  year  of  our  Lord  877,  and  was  suc- 
ceeded by  his  son  Louis.  Before  the  second  year  of  his 
reign  was  completed  this  Louis  died  in  the  palace  at  Com- 
peigne,  on  the  sixth  before  the  Ides  of  April,  in  the  year  of 
our  Lord  879,  the  twelfth  of  the  Indiction.  After  him  his 
sons,  Louis  and  Caroloman,  divided  his  kingdom.  Of  these, 
Louis  gained  a  victory  over  the  Normans  in  the  district  of 
Vimeu,  and  died  soon  after  on  the  12th  of  August,  in  the 
year  of  our  Lord  881,  the  fifteenth  of  the  Indiction,  having 
reigned  two  years,  three  months,  and  twenty-four  days.  He 
was  succeeded  in  his  government  by  his  brother  Caroloman, 
who,  after  reigning  three  years  and  six  days,  was  wounded 
by  a  wild  boarf  in  the  forest  of  Iveline,  in  Mount  Ericus. 

*  Comu-guallia,  i.e.  the  Horn  of  Gaul  from  the  projection  of  Brit- 

f  Some  pretend  that  he  was  accidentally  wounded  by  Bertholde,  one  of 
his  attendants  ;  and  that  the  story  of  the  boar  was  invented  in  order  to 

102  WILLIAM  OF  MALMESBTTRY.  [b.  it.  c.  t. 

He  departed  this  life  in  the  year  of  our  Lord  884,  the  second 
of  the  Indiction,  the  24th  of  December.  Next  Charles  king 
of  the  Suavi,  the  son  of  Louis  king  of  the  Norici,  assumed 
the  joint  empire  of  the  Franks  and  Romans,  in  the  year  of 
the  Incarnate  Word  885,  the  third  of  the  Indiction  ;  whose 
vision,  as  I  think  it  worth  preserving,  I  here  subjoin  : 

"  In  the  name  of  G-od  most  high,  the  King  of  kings.  As 
I,  Charles  by  the  free  gift  of  God,  emperor,  king  of  the  Ger- 
mans, patrician  of  the  Romans,  and  emperor  of  the  Franks, 
on  the  sacred  night  of  the  Lord's  day,  after  duly  performing 
the  holy  service  of  the  evening,  went  to  the  bed  of  rest  and 
sought  the  sleep  of  quietude,  there  came  a  tremendous  voice 
to  me,  saying,  '  Charles,  thy  spirit  shall  shortly  depart  from 
thee  for  a  considerable  time  :'  immediately  I  was  rapt  in  the 
spirit,  and  he  who  carried  me  away  in  the  spirit  was  most 
glorious  to  behold.  In  his  hand  he  held  a  clue  of  thread 
emitting  a  beam  of  purest  light,  such  as  comets  shed  when 
they  appear.  This  he  began  to  unwind,  and  said  to  me,  '  Take 
the  thread  of  this  brilliant  clue  and  bind  and  tie  it  firmly  on 
the  thumb  of  thy  right  hand,  for  thou  shalt  be  led  by  it 
through  the  inextricable  punishments  of  the  infernal  regions.' 
Saying  this,  he  went  before  me,  quickly  unrolling  the  thread 
of  the  brilliant  clue,  and  led  me  into  very  deep  and  fiery 
valleys  which  were  full  of  pits  boiling  with  pitch,  and  brim- 
stone, and  lead,  and  wax,  and  grease.  There  I  found  the 
bishops  of  my  father  and  of  my  uncles  :  and  when  in  terror 
I  asked  them  why  they  were  suffering  such  dreadful  tor- 
ments ?  they  replied,  '  We  were  the  bishops  of  your  father 
and  of  your  uncles,  and  instead  of  preaching,  and  admonish- 
ing them  and  their  people  to  peace  and  concord,  as  was  our 
duty,  we  were  the  sowers  of  discord  and  the  fomenters  of 
evil.  On  this  account  we  are  now  burning  in  these  infernal 
torments,  together  with  other  lovers  of  slaughter  and  of 
rapine  ;  and  hither  also  will  your  bishops  and  ministers  come, 
who  now  delight  to  act  as  we  did.'  While  I  was  fearfully 
listening  to  this,  behold  the  blackest  demons  came  flying 
about  me,  with  fiery  claws  endeavouring  to  snatch  away  the 
thread  of  life  which  I  held  in  my  hand,  and  to  draw  it  to 
them  ;  but  repelled  by  the  rays  of  the  clue,  they  were  unable 

screen  him  from  punishment.  Malmesbury,  however,  follows  Asser,  the 
Saxon  Chron.,  &c. 

A,D.  885.]  Charles's  vision,  103 

to  touch  it.  Next  running  behind  me,  they  tried  to  gripe 
me  in  their  claws  and  cast  me  headlong  into  those  sulphu- 
reous pits  :  but  my  conductor,  who  carried  the  clue,  threw  a 
thread  of  light  over  my  shoulders,  and  doubling  it,  drew  me 
strongly  after  him,  and  in  this  manner  we  ascended  lofty 
fiery  mountains,  from  which  arose  lakes,  and  burning  rivers, 
and  all  kinds  of  burning  metals,  wherein  I  found  immersed 
innumerable  souls  of  the  vassals  and  princes  of  my  father 
and  brothers,  some  up  to  the  hair,  others  to  the  chin,  and 
others  to  the  middle,  who  mournfully  cried  out  to  me,  '  While 
we  were  living,  we  were,  together  with  you,  and  your  father, 
and  brothers,  and  uncles,  fond  of  battle,  and  slaughter,  and 
plunder,  through  lust  of  earthly  things  :  wherefore  we  now 
undergo  punishment  in  these  boiling  rivers,  and  in  various 
kinds  of  liquid  metal.'  While  I  was,  with  the  greatest 
alarm,  attending  to  these,  I  heard  some  souls  behind  me  cry- 
ing out,  '  The  great  will  undergo  still  greater  torment.'  1 
looked  back  and  beheld  on  the  banks  of  the  boiling  river, 
furnaces  of  pitch  and  brimstone,  filled  with  great  dragons, 
and  scorpions,  and  diiFerent  kinds  of  serpents,  where  I  also 
saw  some  of  my  father's  nobles,  some  of  my  own,  and  of 
those  of  my  brothers  and  of  my  uncles,  who  said,  '  Alas, 
Charles,  you  see  what  dreadful  torments  we  undergo  on 
account  of  our  malice,  and  pride,  and  the  evil  counsel  which 
we  gave  to  our  kings  and  to  you,  for  lust's  sake.'  When  I 
could  not  help  groaning  mournfully  at  this,  the  dragons  ran 
at  me  with  open  jaws  filled  with  fire,  and  brimstone,  and 
pitch,  and  tried  to  swallow  me  up.  My  conductor  then 
tripled  the  thread  of  the  clue  around  me,  which  by  the 
splendour  of  its  rays  overcame  their  fiery  throats  :  he  then 
pulled  me  with  greater  violence,  and  we  descended  into  a 
valley,  which  was  in  one  part  dark  and  burning  like  a  fiery 
furnace,  but  in  another  so  extremely  enchanting  and  glorious, 
that  I  cannot  describe  it.  I  turned  myself  to  the  dark  part 
which  emitted  flames,  and  there  I  saw  some  kings  of  my  race 
in  extreme  torture ;  at  which,  affrighted  beyond  measure  and 
reduced  to  great  distress,  I  expected  that  I  should  be  imme. 
diately  thrown  into  these  torments  by  some  very  black  giants, 
who  made  the  valley  blaze  with  every  kind  of  flame.  I  trem- 
bled very  much,  and,  the  thread  of  the  clue  of  light  assisting 
my  eyes,  I  saw,  on  the  side  of  the  valley,  the  light  somewhat 

104  WILLIAM    OF    MALMESBURY.  [b.  ii-  c.  2. 

brightening,  and  two  fountains  flowing  out  thence  :  one  was 
extremely  hot ;  the  other  clear  and  luke-warm  ;  two  large 
casks  were  there  besides.  When,  guided  by  the  thread  of 
light,  I  proceeded  thither,  I  looked  into  the  vessel  containing 
boiling  water,  and  saw  my  father  Louis,  standing  therein  up  to 
his  thighs.  He  was  dreadfully  oppressed  with  pain  and  agony, 
and  said  to  me,  '  Fear  not,  my  lord  Charles  ;  I  know  that  your 
spirit  will  again  return  into  your  body,  and  that  God  hath 
permitted  you  to  come  hither,  that  you  might  see  for  what 
crimes  myself  and  all  whom  you  have  beheld,  undergo  these 
torments.  One  day  I  am  bathed  in  the  boiling  cask  ;  next  I 
pass  into  that  other  delightful  water  ;  which  is  effected  by 
the  prayers  of  St.  Peter  and  St.  Remigius,  under  whose  pa- 
tronage our  royal  race  has  hitherto  reigned.  But  if  you,  and 
my  faithful  bishops  and  abbats,  and  the  whole  ecclesiastical 
order  will  quickly  assist  me  with  masses,  prayers  and  psalms, 
and  alms,  and  vigils,  I  shall  shortly  be  released  from  the 
punishment  of  the  boiling  water.  For  my  brother  Lothaire 
and  his  son  Louis  have  had  these  punishments  remitted  by 
the  prayers  of  St.  Peter  and  St.  Remigius,  and  have  now 
entered  into  the  joy  of  God's  paradise.'  He  then  said  to  me, 
'  Look  on  your  left  hand  ;'  and  when  I  had  done  so,  I  saw 
two  very  deep  casks  boiling  furiously.  *  These,'  said  he, 
'  are  prepared  for  you,  if  you  do  not  amend  and  repent  of 
your  atrocious  crimes.'  I  then  began  to  be  dreadfully  afraid, 
and  when  my  conductor  saw  my  spirit  thus  terrified,  he  said 
to  me,  'Follow  me  to  the  right  of  that  most  resplendent 
valley  of  paradise.'  As  we  proceeded,  I  beheld  my  uncle 
Lothaire  sitting  in  excessive  brightness,  in  company  with 
glorious  kings,  on  a  topaz-stone  of  uncommon  size,  crowned 
with  a  precious  diadem  :  and  near  him,  his  son  Louis  crowned 
in  like  manner.  Seeing  me  near  at  hand  he  called  me  to 
him  in  a  kind  voice,  saying,  '  Come  to  me,  Charles,  now  my 
third  successor  in  the  empire  of  the  Romans ;  I  know  that 
you  have  passed  through  the  place  of  punishment  where  your 
father,  my  brother,  is  placed  in  the  baths  appointed  for  liim  ; 
but,  by  the  mercy  of  God,  he  will  be  shortly  liberated  from 
those  punishments  as  we  have  been,  by  the  merits  of  St. 
Peter  and  the  prayers  of  St.  Remigius,  to  whom  God  hath 
given  a  special  charge  over  the  kings  and  people  of  the 
Franks,  and  unless  he  shall  continue  to  favour  and  assist  the 

A.D.  885.]  Charles's  \tesion.  105 

dregs  of  our  family,  our  race  must  shortly  cease  both  from 
the  kingdom  and  the  empire.  Know,  moreover,  tliat  the  rule 
of  the  empire  will  be  shortly  taken  out  of  your  hand,  nor 
will  you  long  survive.  Then  Louis  turning  to  me,  said,  '  The 
empire  which  you  have  hitherto  held  by  hereditary  right, 
Louis  the  son  of  my  daughter  is  to  assume.'  So  saying, 
there  seemed  immediately  to  appear  before  me  a  little  child, 
and  Lothaire  his  grandfather  looking  upon  him,  said  to  me, 
'  This  infant  seems  to  be  such  an  one  as  that  which  the  Lord 
set  in  the  midst  of  the  disciples,  and  said,  "  Of  such  is  the 
kingdom  of  God,  I  say  unto  you,  that  their  angels  do  always 
behold  the  face  of  my  father  who  is  in  heaven."  But  do  you 
bestow  on  him  the  empire  by  that  thread  of  the  clue  which 
you  hold  in  your  hand.'  I  then  untied  the  thread  from  the 
thumb  of  my  right  hand,  and  gave  him  the  whole  monarchy 
of  the  empire  by  that  thread,  and  immediately  the  entire 
clue,  like  a  brilliant  sun-beam,  became  rolled  up  in  his  hand. 
Thus,  after  this  wonderful  transaction,  my  spirit,  extremely 
wearied  and  affrighted,  returned  into  my  body.  Therefore, 
let  all  persons  know  willingly  or  unwillingly,  forasmuch  as, 
according  to  the  will  of  God,  the  whole  empire  of  the  Romans 
will  revert  into  his  hands,  and  that  I  cannot  prevail  against 
him,  compelled  by  the  conditions  of  this  my  calling,  that  God, 
who  is  the  ruler  of  the  living  and  the  dead,  will  both  com- 
plete and  establish  this  ;  whose  eternal  kingdom  remains  for 
ever  and  ever,  amen." 

The  vision  itself,  and  the  partition  of  the  kingdoms,  I  have 
inserted  in  the  very  words  I  found  them  in.*  This  Charles, 
then,  had  scarcely  discharged  the  united  duties  of  the  empire 
and  kingdom  for  two  years,  when  Charles,  the  son  of  Louis 
who  died  at  Compeigne,  succeeded  liim :  this  is  the  Charles 
who  married  the  daughter  of  Edward,  king  of  England,  and 
gave  Normandy  to  Rollo  with  his  daughter  Gisla,  who  was 
the  surety  of  peace  and  pledge  of  the  treaty.  To  this 
Charles,  in  the  empire,  succeeded  Arnulph ;  a  king  of  the 
imperial  line,  tutor  of  that  young  Louis  of  whom  the  vision 
above  recited  speaks.  Arnulph  dying  after  fifteen  years,  this 
Louis  succeeded  him,  at  whose  death,  one  Conrad,  king  of  the 

*  This  vision  is  copied  from  Hariulfe's  Chronicle,  lib.  iii,  cap.  21.  The 
Annals  ascribed  to  Asser  also  recite  the  vision,  sub  anno  886. — See  Mr. 
Hardy's  Note,  vol.  i.  p.  160. 

106  WILLIAM   OF    MALMESBUKY.  [b.  ii.  c.  2. 

Teutonians,  obtained  the  sovereignty.  His  son  Henry,  who 
succeeded  him,  sent  to  Athelstan  king  of  the  Angles,  for  his 
two  sisters,  AJdgitha  and  Edgitha,  the  latter  of  whom  he 
married  to  his  son  Otho,  the  former  to  a  certain  duke  near 
the  Alps.  Thus  the  empire  of  the  Romans  and  the  kingdom 
of  the  Franks  being  severed  from  their  ancient  union,  the 
one  is  governed  by  emperors  and  the  other  by  kings.  But 
as  I  have  wandered  wide  from  my  purpose,  whilst  indulging 
in  tracing  the  descent  of  the  illustrious  kings  of  the  Franks, 
I  will  now  return  to  the  course  I  had  begun,  and  to  Ethel- 

On  his  return  after  his  year's  peregrination  and  marriage 
with  the  daughter  of  Charles  the  Bald,  as  I  have  said,  he 
found  the  dispositions  of  some  persons  contrary  to  his  ex- 
pectations. For  Ethelbald  liis  son,  and  Ealstan  bishop  of 
Sherborne,  and  Enulph  earl  of  Somerset  conspiring  against 
him,  endeavoured  to  eject  him  from  the  sovereignty;  but 
through  the  intervention  of  maturer  counsel,  the  kingdom 
was  divided  between  the  father  and  his  son.  This  partition 
was  extremely  unequal ;  for  malignity  was  so  far  successful 
that  the  western  portion,  whicli  was  the  better,  was  allotted 
to  the  son,  the  eastern,  which  was  the  worse,  fell  to  the 
father.  He,  however,  with  incredible  forbearance,  dreading 
"a  worse  than  civil  war,"  calmly  gave  way  to  his  son,  re- 
straining, by  a  conciliatory  harangue,  the  people  who  had 
assembled  for  the  purpose  of  asserting  his  dignity.  And 
though  all  this  quarrel  arose  on  account  of  his  foreign  wife, 
yet  he  held  her  in  the  highest  estimation,  and  used  to  place 
her  on  the  throne  near  himself,  contrary  to  the  West  Saxon 
custom.  For  that  people  never  suffered  the  king's  consort 
either  to  be  seated  by  the  king  or  to  be  honoured  with  the 
appellation  of  queen,  on  account  of  the  depravity  of  Ead- 
burga,  daughter  of  Offa,  king  of  the  Mercians ;  who,  as  we 
have  before  mentioned,  being  married  to  Bertric,  king  of  the 
West  Saxons,  used  to  persuade  him,  a  tender-hearted  man, 
as  they  report,  to  the  destruction  of  the  innocent,  and  would 
herself  take  off  by  poison  those  against  whom  her  accusa- 
tions failed.  This  was  exemplified  in  the  case  of  a  youth 
much  beloved  by  the  king,  whom  she  made  away  with  in 
this  manner :  and  immediately  afterwards  Bertric  fell  sick, 
wasted  away  and  died,  from  having  previously  drunk  of  the 

A.D.  857.]  ETHELWULP'S    CHARTER.  107 

same  potion,  unknown  to  tlie  queen.  The  rumour  of  tliis 
getting  abroad,  drove  the  poisoner  from  the  kingdom.  Pro- 
ceeding to  Charles  the  Great,  she  happened  to  find  him 
standing  with  one  of  his  sons,  and  after  offering  him  pre- 
sents, the  emperor,  in  a  playful,  jocose  manner,  conomanded 
her  to  choose  which  she  liked  best,  himself,  or  his  son. 
Eadburga  choosing  the  young  man  for  his  blooming  beauty, 
Charles  replied  with  some  emotion,  "Had  you  chosen  me, 
you  should  have  had  my  son,  but  since  you  have  chosen  him, 
you  shall  have  neither."  He  then  placed  her  in  a  monastery 
where  she  might  pass  her  life  in  splendour ;  but,  soon  after, 
finding  her  guilty  of  incontinence  he  expelled  her.*  Struck 
with  this  instance  of  depravity,  the  Saxons  framed  the  regu- 
lation I  have  alluded  to,  though  Ethelwulf  invalidated  it  by 
his  affectionate  kindness.  He  made  his  will  a  few  months 
before  he  died,  in  wliich,  after  the  division  of  the  kingdom 
between  his  sons  Ethelbald  and  Ethelbert,  he  set  out  the 
dowry  of  his  daughter,  and  ordered,  that,  till  the  end  of 
time,  one  poor  person  should  be  clothed  and  fed  from  every 
tenth  hide  of  his  inheritance,  and  that  every  year,  three 
hundred  mancas  of  goldf  should  be  sent  to  Kome,  of  which 
one -third  should  be  given  to  St.  Peter,  another  to  St.  Paul 
for  lamps,  and  the  other  to  the  pope  for  distribution.  He 
died  two  years  after  he  came  from  Rome,  and  was  buried  at 
Winchester  in  the  cathedral.  But  that  I  may  return  from 
my  digression  to  my  proposed  series,  I  shall  here  subjoin  the 
charter  of  ecclesiastical  immunities  which  he  granted  to  all 

"  Our  Lord  Jesus  Christ  reigning  for  evermore.  Since 
we  perceive  that  perilous  times  are  pressing  on  us,  that 
there  are  in  our  days  hostile  burnings,  and  plunderings 
of  our  wealth,  and  most  cruel  depredations  by  devastating 
enemies,  and  many  tribulations  of  barbarous  and  pagan  na- 
tions, threatening  even  our  destruction:  therefore  I  Ethel- 
wulf king  of  the  West  Saxons,  with  the  advice  of  my 
bishops  and  nobility,  have  established  a  wholesome  counsel 

*  Asser  had  conversed  with  many  persons  who  afterwards  saw  her  beg- 
ging for  a  subsistence  in  Pavia,  where  she  died. 

+  One  hundred  were  for  the  pope,  and  the  other  two  hundred  to  be 
divided  between  the  churches  of  St.  Peter  and  St.  Paul,  to  provide  lights 
on  Easter-eve. 

108  WILLIAM    OF    MALMKSHURY.  [b.  ir.  c.  2. 

and  general  remedj.  I  have  decided  that  there  shall  be 
given  to  the  servants  of  God,  whether  male  or  female  or  lay- 
men,* a  certain  hereditary  portion  of  the  lands  possessed  by 
persons  of  every  degree,  that  is  to  say,  the  tenth  manse,| 
but  where  it  is  less  than  this,  then  the  tenth  part;  that  it 
may  be  exonerated  from  all  secular  services,  all  royal  tri- 
butes great  and  small,  or  those  taxes  which  we  call  Witere- 
den.  And  let  it  be  free  from  all  things,  for  the  release  of 
our  souls,  that  it  may  be  applied  to  God's  service  alone, 
exempt  from  expeditions,  the  building  of  bridges,  or  of  forts  ; 
in  order  that  they  may  more  diligently  pour  forth  their 
prayers  to  God  for  us  without  ceasing,  inasmuch  as  we  have 
in  some  measure  alleviated  their  service.  Moreover  it  hath 
pleased  Ealstan  bishop  of  Sherborne,  and  Swithun  bishop 
of  Winchester,  with  their  abbats  and  the  servants  of  God, 
to  appoint  that  all  our  brethren  and  sisters  at  each  church, 
every  week  on  the  day  of  Mercury,  that  is  to  say,  Wednes- 
day, should  sing  fifty  psalms,  and  every  priest  two  masses, 
one  for  king  Ethelwulf,  and  another  for  his  nobility,  con- 
senting to  this  gift,  for  the  pardon  and  alleviation  of  their 
sins;  for  the  king  while  living,  they  shall  say,  'Let  us 
pray:  O  God,  who  justifiest.'  For  the  nobility  while  living, 
'  Stretch  forth,  O  Lord.'  After  they  are  dead ;  for  the  de- ' 
parted  king,  singly:  for  the  departed  nobility,  in  common: 
and  let  this  be  firmly  appointed  for  all  the  times  of  Chris- 
tianity, in  like  manner  as  that  immunity  is  appointed,  so 
long  as  faith  shall  increase  in  the  nation  of  the  Angles 
This  charter  of  donation  was  written  in  the  year  of  our 
Lord's  incarnation  844,J  the  fourth  of  the  indiction,  and  on 
the  nones,  i.  e.  the  fifth  day  of  November,  in  the  city  of 
Winchester,  in  the  church  of  St.  Peter,  before  the  high 
altar,  and  they  have  done  this  for  the  honour  of  St.  Michael 

*  Ingulf,  who  likewise  gives  this  charter,  reads,  "laicis  miseris,"  the 
poor  laity. 

+  Manse  implies  generally  a  dwelling  and  a  certain  quantity  of  land  an- 
nexed :  sometimes  it  is  synonymous  with  a  hide,  or  plough-land. 

J  Ingulf  has  a.d.  855 :  3  indict,  which  agrees  with  Asser,  who  assigns 
that  year  for  the  grant.  It  appears  to  be  the  charter  which  Malmesbury 
before  referred  to  on  the  king's  going  to  Rome,  and  has  given  rise  to  much 
controversy;  some  holding  that  it  conveyed  the  tithes  of  the  land  only, 
while  others  maintain  that  it  was  an  actual  transfer  of  the  tenth  part  of  all 
lands  in  the  kingdom.     See  Carte,  vol.  i.  293.     Both  opinions  are  attended 

A.D.  S5B.J  WEST    SAXON   KINGS.  109 

the  archangel,  and  of  St.  Marj  the  glorious  queen,  the 
mother  of  God,  and  also  for  the  honour  of  St.  Peter  the 
chief  of  the  apostles,  and  of  our  most  holy  father  pope 
Gregory,  and  all  saints.  And  then,  for  greater  security, 
king  Ethelwulf  placed  the  charter  on  the  altar  of  St.  Peter, 
and  the  bishops  received  it  in  behalf  of  God's  holy  faith, 
and  afterwards  transmitted  it  to  all  churches  in  their  dio- 
ceses according  to  the  above-cited  form." 

From  this  king  the  English  chronicles  trace  the  line  of  the 
generation  of  their  kings  upwards,  even  to  Adam,  as  we 
know  Luke  the  evangelist  has  done  with  respect  to  our  Lord 
Jesus ;  and  which,  perhaps,  it  will  not  be  superfluous  for  me 
to  do,  though  it  is  to  be  apprehended,  that  the  utterance  of 
barbarous  names  m.ay  shock  the  ears  of  persons  unused  to 
them.  Ethelwulf  was  the  son  of  Egbert,  Egbert  of  Elmund, 
Elmund  of  Eafa,  Eafa  of  Eoppa,  Eoppa  was  the  son  of  Ligild, 
the  brother  of  king  Ina,  who  were  both  sons  of  Kenred  ; 
Kenred  of  Ceolwald,  Ceolwald  of  Cutha,  Cutha  of  Cuthwin, 
Cuthwin  of  Ceawlin,  Ceawlin  of  Cynric,  Cynric  of  Creoding, 
Creoding  of  Cerdic,  who  was  the  first  king  of  the  AVest 
Saxons  ;  Cerdic  of  Elesa,  Elesa  of  Esla,  Esla  of  Gewis, 
Gewis  of  Wig,  Wig  of  Freawin,  Freawin  of  Frithogar, 
Frithogar  of  Brond,  Brond  of  Beldeg,  Beldeg  of  Woden  ; 
and  from  him,  as  we  have  often  remarked,  proceeded  the 
kings  of  many  nations.  Woden  was  the  son  of  Frithowald, 
Frithowald  of  Frealaf,  Frealaf  of  Finn,  Finn  of  Godwulf, 
Godwulf  of  Geat,  Geat  of  Tastwa,  Taetwa  of  Beaw,  Beaw  of 
Sceldi,  Sceldi  of  Sceaf ;  who,  as  some  affirm,  was  driven  on 
a  certain  island  in  Germany,  called  Scamphta,  (of  which 
Jornandes,  *  the  historian  of  the  Goths,  speaks,)  a  little  boy 
in  a  skiff,  without  any  attendant,  asleep,  with  a  handful  of 
corn  at  his  head,  whence  he  was  called  Sceaf;  and,  on 
account  of  his  singular  appearance,  being  well  received  by 

with  considerable  difficulties.  Mr.  Carte  very  inadvertently  imagines  this 
charter  and  the  copy  in  Ingulf  to  be  distinct  erant? :  the  latter  being,  he 
says,  a  confirmation  and  extension  of  the  former,  after  Ethelwulf 's  return 
from  Rome:  but  the  false  date  in  Malmesbury  is  of  no  importance,  some 
MSS.  having  even  814,  and  855  was  the  year  of  his  departure,  not  of  his 

*  Jordanes,  or  Jornandes,  was  secretary  to  the  kings  of  the  Goths  in 
Italy.  He  was  afterwards  bishop  of  Ravenna,  and  wrote,  De  Rebvs 
Gothicis  ;  and  also,  De  Regnorum  et  Temporum  Successione— Hardy. 

110  WILLLOI    OF   MAJLMESBURY.  Lb.  ii  c.  3. 

the  men  of  that  country,  and  carefully  educated,  in  his  riper 
age  he  reigned  in  a  town  which  was  called  Slaswic,  but  at 
present  Haitheby  ;  which  country,  called  old  Anglia,  whence 
the  Angles  came  into  Britain,  is  situated  between  the  Saxons 
and  the  Gioths.  Sceaf  was  the  son  of  Heremod,  Heremod 
of  Itermon,  Itermon  of  Hathra,  Hathra  of  Guala,  Guala  of 
Bedwig,  Bedwig  of  Streaf,  and  he,  as  they  say,  was  the  son 
of  Noah,  born  in  the  Ark.  * 


Of  Ethelbald,  Ethelbert,  and  Ethelred,  sons  of  Etheltvulf, 
[a.d.  858—872.] 

In  the  year  of  our  Lord  857,  f  the  two  sons  of  Ethelwulf 
divided  their  paternal  kingdom  ;  Ethelbald  reigned  in  West 
Saxony,  and  Ethelbert  in  Kent.  Ethelbald,  base  and  per- 
fidious, defiled  the  bed  of  his  father  by  marrying,  after  his 
decease,  Judith  his  step-mother.  Dying,  however,  at  the 
end  of  five  years,  and  being  interred  at  Sherborne,  the  whole 
government  devolved  upon  his  brother.  In  his  time  a  band 
of  pirates  landing  at  Southampton,  proceeded  to  plunder  the 
populous  city  of  Winchester,  but  soon  after  being  spiritedly 
repulsed  by  the  king's  generals,  and  suffering  considerable 
loss,  they  put  to  sea,  and  coasting  round,  chose  the  Isle  of 
Thanet,  in  Kent,  for  their  winter  quarters.  The  people  of 
Kent,  giving  hostages,  and  promising  a  sum  of  money,  would 
have  remained  quiet,  had  not  these  pirates,  breaking  the 
treaty,  laid  waste  the  whole  district  by  nightly  predatory 
excursions,  but  roused  by  this  conduct  they  mustered  a  force 
and  drove  out  the  truce-breakers.  Moreover  Ethelbert, 
having  ruled  the  kingdom  with  vigour  and  with  mildness, 

*  A  similar  list  of  the  genealogy  of  the  West  Saxon  kings,  will  be 
found  in  the  Saxon  Chronicle,  a.d.  855. 

+  Malmesbury's  Chronology  to  the  accession  of  Edward  the  Elder,  is  a 
year  later  than  the  Saxon  Chronicle,  Asser,  and  Florence  of  Worcester. 
His  computation  rests  on  fixing  the  death  of  Ethelwulf  in  857,  who  went 
to  Rome  in  855,  stayed  there  a  year,  and  died  in  the  second  year  after  his 
return.  Allowing  ten  years  for  Ethelbald  and  Ethelbert,  it  brings  the 
accession  of  Ethelred  to  867,  and  five  years  added  tb  this  give  872  fur 
Alfred's  accession.  After  the  death  of  Ethelbald  Judith  returned  to 
France.  She  left  no  children  ;  but  marrying  afterwards  Baltlwin,  count  <.f 
Flanders,  she  bore  him  Matilda,  wife  of  William  the  Conqueror. 

A.D.S67 -^71.]  BATTLE   OF   ESCHENDTJN.  Ill 

paid  the  debt  of  nature  after  five  years,  and  was  buried  at 

In  the  year  of  our  Lord  867,  Ethelred,  the  son  of  Ethel- 
wulf,  obtained  his  paternal  kingdom,  and  ruled  it  for  the 
same  number  of  years  as  his  brothers.  Surely  it  would  be  a 
pitiable  and  grievous  destiny,  that  all  of  them  should  perish 
by  an  early  death,  unless  it  is,  that  in  such  a  tempest  of 
evils,  these  royal  youths  should  prefer  an  honourable  end  to 
a  painful  government.  Indeed,  so  bravely  and  so  vigorously 
did  they  contend  for  their  country,  that  it  was  not  to  be  im- 
puted to  them  that  their  valour  did  not  succeed  in  its  design. 
Finally,  it  is  related,  that  this  king  was  personally  engaged 
in  hostile  conflict  against  the  enemy  nine  times  in  one  year, 
with  various  success  indeed,  but  for  the  most  part  victor, 
besides  sudden  attacks,  in  which,  from  his  skill  in  warfare, 
he  frequently  worsted  those  straggling  depredators.  In  these 
several  actions  the  Danes  lost  nine  earls  and  one  king,  be- 
sides common  people  innumerable. 

One  battle  memorable  beyond  all  the  rest  was  that  which 
took  place  at  Eschendun.*  The  Danes,  having  collected  an 
army  at  this  place,  divided  it  into  two  bodies  ;  their  two 
kings  commanded  the  one,  all  their  earls  the  other.  Ethebed 
drew  near  with  his  brother  Alfred.  It  fell  to  the  lot  of 
Ethelred  to  oppose  the  kings,  while  Alfred  was  to  attack  the 
earls.  Both  armies  eagerly  prepared  for  battle,  but  night 
approaching  deferred  the  conflict  till  the  ensuing-  day. 
Scarcely  had  the  morning  dawned  ere  Alfred  was  ready  at 
his  post,  but  his  brother,  intent  on  his  devotions,  had  re- 
mained in  his  tent ;  and  when  urged  on  by  a  message,  that 
the  pagans  were  rushing  forward  with  unbounded  fury,  he 
declared  that  he  should  not  move  a  step  till  his  religious  ser- 
vices were  ended.  This  piety  of  the  king  was  of  infinite 
advantage  to  his  brother,  who  was  too  impetuous  from  the 
thoughtlessness  of  youth,  and  had  already  far  advanced. 
The  battalions  of  the  Angles  were  now  giving  way,  and 
even  bordering  on  flight,  in  consequence  of  their  adversaries 
pressing  upon  them  from  the  higher  ground,  for  the  Chris- 
tians were  fighting  in  an  unfavourable  situation,  when  the 

*  Supposed  Aston,  near  Wallingford,  Berks.  Others  think  Ashendon  -i 
Bucks.  The  Latin  and  Saxon  names,  Mons  Fraxini,  and  £schen-duu, 
seem  to  favour  the  latter. 

112  WILLIA3I    OF    MALMESBURY.  [b.  ii  c.  3. 

king  himself,  signed  with  the  cross  of  God,  unexpectedly- 
hastened  forward,  dispersing  the  enemy,  and  rallying  his 
subjects.  The  Danes,  terrified  equally  by  his  courage  and 
the  divine  manifestation,  consulted  their  safety  by  flight. 
Here  fell  Oseg  their  king,  five  earls,  and  an  innumerable 
multitude  of  common  people. 

The  reader  will  be  careful  to  observe  that  during  this 
time,  the  kings  of  the  Mercians  and  of  the  Northumbrians, 
eagerly  seizing  the  opportunity  of  the  arrival  of  the  Danes, 
with  whom  Ethelred  was  fully  occupied  in  fighting,  and 
somewhat  relieved  from  their  bondage  to  the  West  Saxons, 
had  nearly  regained  their  original  power.  All  the  provinces, 
therefore,  were  laid  waste  by  cruel  depredations,  because 
each  king  chose  rather  to  resist  the  enemy  within  his  own 
territories,  than  to  assist  liis  neighbours  in  their  difficulties  ; 
and  thus  preferring  to  avenge  injury  rather  than  to  prevent 
it,  they  ruined  their  country  by  their  senseless  conduct.  The 
Danes  acquired  strength  without  impediment,  whilst  the 
apprehensions  of  the  inhabitants  increased,  and  each  suc- 
cessive victory,  from  the  addition  of  captives,  became  the 
means  of  obtaining  another.  The  country  of  the  East 
Angles,  together  with  their  cities  and  villages,  was  possessed 
by  these  plunderers  ;  its  king,  St.  Edmund,  slain  by  them  in 
the  year  of  our  Lord's  incarnation  870,  on  the  tenth  of 
November,  purchased  an  eternal  kingdom  by  putting  off"  this 
mortal  life.  The  Mercians,  often  harassed,  alleviated  their 
afflictions  by  giving  hostages.  The  Northumbrians,  long 
embroiled  in  civil  dissensions,  made  up  their  diff*erences  on 
the  approach  of  the  enemy.  Replacing  Osbert  their  king, 
whom  they  had  expelled,  upon  the  throne,  and  collecting  a 
powerful  force,  they  went  out  to  meet  the  foe  ;  but  being 
easily  repelled,  they  shut  themselves  up  in  the  city  of  York, 
which  was  presently  after  set  on  fire  by  the  victors  ;  and 
w^hen  the  flames  were  raging  to  the  utmost  and  consuming 
the  very  walls,  they  perished  for  their  country  in  the 
conflagration.  In  this  manner  Northumbria,  the  prize  of 
war,  for  a  considerable  time  after,  felt  the  more  bitterly, 
through  a  sense  of  former  liberty,  the  galling  yoke  of  the 
barbarians.  And  now  Ethelred,  worn  down  with  numberless 
labours,  died  and  was  buried  at  Wimborne. 

AD.  872— 878.]  Alfred's  DREAM.  113 


Of  king  Alfred,     [a.d.  872—901.] 

In  the  year  of  our  Lord's  incarnation  872,  Alfred,  the 
youngest  son  of  Ethelwulf,  who  had,  as  has  been  related 
before,  received  the  royal  unction  and  crown  from  pope  Leo 
the  fourth  at  Rome,  acceded  to  the  sovereignty  and  retained 
it  with  the  greatest  difficulty,  but  with  equal  valour,  twenty- 
eight  years  and  a  half.  To  trace  in  detail  the  mazy  labyrinth 
of  his  labours  was  never  my  design ;  because  a  recapitulation 
of  his  exploits  in  their  exact  order  of  time  would  occasion 
some  confusion  to  the  reader.  For,  to  relate  how  a  hostile 
army,  driven  by  himself  or  his  generals,  from  one  part  of  a 
district,  retreated  to  another  ;  and,  dislodged  thence,  sought 
a  fresh  scene  of  operation  and  filled  every  place  with  rapine 
and  slaughter  ;  and,  if  I  may  use  the  expression,  "  to  go 
round  the  whole  island  with  him,"  might  to  some  seem  the 
height  of  folly :  consequently  I  shall  touch  on  all  points 
summarily.  For  nine  successive  years  battling  "vvith  his 
enemies,  sometimes  deceived  by  false  treaties,  and  sometimes 
wreaking  his  vengeance  on  the  d^eivers,  he  was  at  last 
reduced  to  such  extreme  distress,  that  scarcely  three 
counties,  that  is  to  say,  Hampshire,  Wiltshire,  and  Somer- 
setshire, stood  fast  by  their  allegiance,  as  he  was  compelled 
to  retreat  to  a  certain  island  called  Athelney,  which  from  its 
marshy  situation  was  hardly  accessible.  He  was  accustomed 
afterwards,  when  in  happier  circumstances,  to  relate  to  his 
companions,  in  a  lively  and  agreeable  manner,  his  perils 
there,  and  how  he  escaped  them  by  the  merits  of  St. 
Cuthbert ;  *  for  it  frequently  happens  that  men  are  pleased 
with  the  recollection  of  those  circumstances,  which  formerlv 
they  dreaded  to  encounter.  During  his  retreat  in  this  island, 
as  he  was  one  day  in  the  house  alone,  his  companions  being 
dispersed  on  the  river  side  for  the  purpose  of  fishing,  he 
endeavoured  to  refresh  his  weary  frame  with  sleep  :  and 
behold !    Cuthbert,  formerly  bishop  of  Lindisfarne,  addressed 

*  This  legend  will  be  found  in  the  curious  «  account  of  the  translation 
of  the  body  of  St.  Cuthbert  from  Lindisfarne  to  Durham,"  which  we  shall 
give  in  "  Anglo-Saxon  Letters,  Biographies,"  &c.  It  is  taken  from  the 
Acta  Sanctorum,  iii.  March,  p.  127. 


114  WILLIAM   OF   MALMESBUBY.  Lb.  n.  c.  ir. 

him,  while  sleeping,  in  the  following  manner: — "I  am 
Cuthbert,  if  ever  you  heard  of  me  ;  God  hath  sent  me  to 
announce  good  fortune  to  you ;  and  since  England  has 
already  largely  paid  the  penalty  of  her  crimes,  God  now, 
through  the  merits  of  her  native  saints,  looks  upon  her  with 
an  eye  of  mercy.  You  too,  so  pitiably  banished  from  your 
kingdom,  shaU  shortly  be  again  seated  with  honour  on  your 
throne  ;  of  which  I  give  you  this  extraordinary  token  :  your 
fishers  shall  this  day  bring  home  a  great  quantity  of  large 
fish  in  baskets ;  which  will  be  so  much  the  more  ex- 
traordinary because  the  river,  at  this  time  hard-bound  with  ice, 
could  warrant  no  such  expectation ;  especially  as  the  air  now 
dripping  with  cold  rain  mocks  the  art  of  the  fisher.  But, 
when  your  fortune  shall  succeed  to  your  wishes,  you  will  act 
as  becomes  a  king,  if  you  conciUate  God  your  helper,  and 
me  his  messenger,  with  suitable  devotion."  Saying  thus, 
the  saint  divested  the  sleeping  king  of  his  anxiety  ;  and 
comforted  his  mother  also,  who  was  lying  near  him,  and 
endeavouring  to  invite  some  gentle  slumbers  to  her  hard 
couch  to  reHeve  her  cares,  with  the  same  joyful  intelligence. 
When  they  awoke,  they  repeatedly  declared  that  each  had 
had  the  self-same  dream,  when  the  fishermen  entering, 
displayed  such  a  multitude  of  fishes  as  would  have  been 
sufficient  to  satisfy  the  appetite  of  a  numerous  army. 

Not  long  after,  venturing  from  his  concealment,  he 
hazarded  an  experiment  of  consummate  art.  Accompanied 
only  by  one  of  his  most  faithful  adherents,  he  entered  the 
tent  of  the  Danish  king  under  the  disguise  of  a  minstrel ;  * 
and  being  admitted,  as  a  professor  of  the  mimic  art,  to  the 
banqueting  room,  there  was  no  object  of  secrecy  that  he  did 
not  minutely  attend  to  both  with  eyes  and  ears.  Remaining 
there  several  days,  till  he  had  satisfied  his  mind  on  every 
matter  which  he  wished  to  know,  he  returned  to  Athelney  : 
and  assembling  his  companions,  pointed  out  the  indolence  of 
the  enemy  and  the  easiness  of  their  defeat.  All  were  eager 
for  the  enterprise,  and  himself  collecting  forces  from  every 
side,  and  learning  exactly  the  situation  of  the  barbarians 
from  scouts  he  had  sent  out  for  that  purpose,  he  suddenly 
attacked  and  routed  them  with  incredible  slaughter.     The 

•  This  story  rests  upon  the  authority  of  Ingulf  and  William  of 
Malmesbury.    Asser  does  not  notice  it. 

A.D.  878— 890.]  DEFEAT   OP   THE   DANES.  115 

remainder,  with  their  king,  gave  hostages  that  they  would 
embrace  Christianity  and  depart  from  the  country  ;  which 
they  performed.  For  their  king,  Gothrun,  whom  our  people 
call  Grurmund,  with  thirty  nobles  and  almost  all  the  com- 
monalty, was  baptized,  Alfred  standing  for  him  ;  and  the 
provinces  of  the  East  Angles,  and  Northumbrians  *  were 
given  up  to  him,  in  order  that  he  might,  under  fealty  to  the 
king,  protect  with  hereditary  right,  what  before  he  had  over- 
run with  predatory  incursion.  However,  as  the  Ethiopian 
cannot  change  his  skin,  he  domineered  over  these  tributary 
provinces  with  the  haughtiness  of  a  tyrant  for  eleven  years, 
and  died  in  the  twelfth,  transmitting  to  his  posterity  the  inhe- 
ritance of  his  disloyalty,  until  subdued  by  Athelstan,  the 
grandson  of  Alfred,  they  were,  though  reluctantly,  compelled 
to  admit  one  common  king  of  England,  as  we  see  at  the  pre- 
sent day.  Such  of  the  Danes  as  had  refused  to  become 
Christians,  together  with  Hastings,  went  over  sea,  where  the 
inhabitants  are  best  able  to  tell  what  cruelties  they  perpe- 
trated. For  overrunning  the  whole  maritime  coasts  to  the 
Tuscan  sea,  they  unpeopled  Paris  and  Tours,  as  well  as 
many  other  cities  seated  on  the  Seine  and  Loire,  those  noted 
rivers  of  France.  At  that  time  the  bodies  of  many  saints 
being  taken  up  from  the  spot  of  their  original  interment  and 
conveyed  to  safer  places,  have  ennobled  foreign  churches  with 
their  relics  even  to  this  day.  Then  also  the  body  of  St. 
Martin,  venerated,  as  Sidonius  says,  over  the  whole  earth,  in 
which  virtue  resides  though  Ufe  be  at  an  end,  was  taken  to 
Auxerre,  by  the  clergy  of  his  church,  and  placed  in  that  of 
St.  German,  where  it  astonished  the  people  of  that  district 
by  unheard-of  miracles.  And  when  they  who  came  thither, 
out  of  gratitude  for  cures  performed,  contributed  many  things 
to  requite  the  labours  of  those  who  had  borne  him  to  this 
church,  as  is  commonly  the  case,  a  dispute  arose  about  the 
division  of  the  money;  the  Turonians  claiming  the  whole, 
because  their  patron  had  called  the  contributors  together  by 
his  miracles  :  the  natives,  on  the  other  hand,  alleging  that 
St.  German  was  not  unequal  in  merit,  and  was  of  equal 

•  This  seems  a  mistake  as  far  relates  to  Northumbria.  The  Saxon 
Chronicle  has  "  Northerna,"  and  Florence  of  Worcester  "  Rex  North- 
manicus,"  which  at  a  first  glance  might  easily  be  converted  into  Northum- 


116  WrLLIAM   OF   MALMESBURT.  [b.  n.  c.  4. 

kindness  ;  that  both  indeed  had  the  same  power,  but  that 
the  prerogative  of  their  church  preponderated.     To  solve 
this  knotty  doubt,  a  leprous  person  was  sought,  and  placed, 
nearly  at  the  last  gasp,  wasted  to  a  skeleton,  and  already 
dead,  as  it  were,  in  a  living  carcass,  between  the  bodies  of 
the  two  saints.     All  human  watch  was  prohibited  for  the 
whole   night :    the    glory   of   Martin   alone   was   vigilant ; 
for  the  next  day,  the  skin  of  the  man  on  his  side  appeared 
clear,  while  on  that  of  German,  it  was  discoloured  with  its 
customary  deformity.     And,  that  they  might  not  attribute 
this  miracle  to  chance,  they  turned  the  yet  diseased  side  to 
Martin.     As  soon  as  the  morning  began  to  dawn,  the  man 
was  found  by  the  hastening  attendants  with  his  skin  smooth, 
perfectly  cured,    declaring  the  kind   condescension   of    the 
resident  patron,  who  yielded  to  the  honour  of  such  a  wel- 
come stranger.     Thus  the  Turonians,  both  at  that  time  and 
afterwards,  safely  filled  their  common  purse  by  the  assistance 
of  their  patron,  till  a  more  favourable  gale  of  peace  restored 
them  to  their  former  residence.     For  these  marauders  infest- 
ing France  for  thirteen  years,  and  being  at  last  overcome  by 
the  emperor  Ernulph  and  the  people  of  Brittany  in  many 
encounters,  retreated  into  England  as  a  convenient  receptacle 
for  their  tyranny.     During  this  space  of  time  Alfred  had  re- 
duced the  whole  island  to  his  power,  with  the  exception  of 
what  the  Danes  possessed.     The  Angles  had  willingly  sur- 
rendered to  liis  dominion,  rejoicing  that  they  had  produced  a 
man  capable  of  leading  them  to  liberty.     He  granted  Lon- 
don, the  chief  city  of  the  Mercian  kingdom,  to  a  nobleman 
named  Ethered,  to  hold  in  fealty,  and  gave  him  his  daughter 
Ethelfled     in  marriage.      Ethered  conducted  himself  with 
equal  valour  and  fidelity ;  defended  his  trust  with  activity, 
and  kept  the  East  Angles  and  Northumbrians,  who  were 
fomenting  rebellion  against  the  king,  within   due   bounds, 
compelling  them  to  give  hostages.     Of  what  infinite  service 
this  was,  the  following  emergency  proved.     After  England 
had  rejoiced  for  thirteen  years  in  the  tranquillity  of  peace 
and  in  the  fertility  of  her  soil,  the  northern  pest  of  barba- 
rians again  returned.     With  them  returned  war  and  slaugh- 
ter ;  again  arose  conspiracies  of  the  Northumbrians  and  East 
Angles:  but  neither  strangers  nor  natives  experienced  the 
same  fortune  as  in  former  years ;  the  one  party,  diminished 

A.D.  893.]  KING  Alfred's  institutions.  117 

by  foreign  contests,  were  less  alert  in  their  invasions  ;  wliile 
the  other,  now  experienced  in  war  and  animated  by  the  ex- 
hortations of  the  king,  were  not  only  more  ready  to  resist, 
but  also  to  attack.  The  king  himself  was,  with  his  usual 
activity,  present  in  every  action,  ever  daunting  the  invaders, 
and  at  the  same  time  inspiriting  his  subjects,  with  the  signal 
display  of  his  courage.  He  would  oppose  himself  singly  to 
the  enemy ;  and  by  his  own  personal  exertions  rally  his  de- 
clining forces  The  very  places  are  yet  pointed  out  by  the 
inhabitants  where  he  felt  the  vicissitudes  of  good  and  evil 
fortune.  It  was  necessary  to  contend  with  Alfred  even  after 
he  was  overcome,  after  he  was  prostrate;  insomuch  that 
when  he  might  be  supposed  altogether  vanquished,  he  would 
escape  like  a  slippery  serpent,  from  the  hand  which  held 
him,  glide  from  his  lurking-place,  and,  with  undiminished 
courage,  spring  on  his  insulting  enemies  :  he  was  insupport- 
able after  flight,  and  became  more  circumspect  from  the  re- 
collection of  defeat,  more  bold  from  the  thirst  of  vengeance. 
His  children  by  Elswitha,  the  daughter  of  earl  Athelred, 
were  Ethelswitha,  Edward  who  reigned  after  him;  Ethel- 
fled  who  was  married  to  Ethered  earl  of  the  Mercians; 
Ethelwerd,  whom  they  celebrate  as  being  extremely  learned ; 
Elfred  and  Ethelgiva,  virgins.  His  health  was  so  bad 
that  he  was  constantly  disquieted  either  by  the  piles  or  some 
disorder  of  the  intestines.  It  is  said,  however,  that  he 
entreated  this  from  God,  in  his  supplications,  in  order  that, 
hj  the  admonition  of  pain,  he  might  be  kss  anxious  after 
earthly  delights. 

Yet  amid  these  circumstances  the  private  life  of  the  king 
is  to  be  admired  and  celebrated  with  the  highest  praise. 
For  although,  as  some  one  has  said,  "Laws  must  give  way 
amid  the  strife  of  arms,"  yet  he,  amid  the  sound  of  trumpets 
and  the  din  of  war,  enacted  statutes  by  which  his  people 
might  equally  familiarise  themselves  to  religious  worship 
and  to  military  discipline.  And  since,  from  the  example 
of  the  barbarians,  the  natives  themselves  began  to  lust  after 
rapine,  insomuch  that  there  was  no  safe  intercourse  without 
a  military  guard,  he  appointed  centuries,  which  they  call 
"hundreds,"  and  decennaries,  that  is  to  say,  "tythings,'*  so 
that  every  Englishman,  living  according  to  law,  must  be  a 
member  of  both.     If  any  one  was  accused  of  a  crime,  he 

118  WILLIAM   OF   MALMESBURT.  [b.  ii.  c.  4. 

was  obliged  immediately  to  produce  persons  from  the  hun- 
dred and  tything  to  become  his  surety ;  and  whosoever  was 
unable  to  find  such  surety,  must  dread  the  severity  of  the 
laws.  If  any  who  was  impleaded  made  his  escape  either 
before  or  after  he  had  found  surety,  all  persons  of  the  hun- 
dred and  tything  paid  a  fine  to  the  king.  By  this  regulation 
he  diiFused  such  peace  throughout  the  country,  that  he  or- 
dered golden  bracelets,  which  might  mock  the  eager  desires 
of  the  passengers  while  no  one  durst  take  them  away,  to  be 
liung  up  on  the  public  causeways,  where  the  roads  crossed 
each  other.  Ever  intent  on  almsgiving,  he  confirmed  the 
privileges  of  the  churches,  as  appointed  by  his  father,  and 
sent  many  presents  over  sea  to  Rome  and  to  St.  Thomas  in 
India.  Sighelm,  bishop  of  Sherborne,  sent  ambassador  for 
this  purpose,  penetrated  successfully  into  India,  a  matter  of 
astonishment  even  in  the  present  time.  Returning  thence, 
he  brought  back  many  brilliant  exotic  gems  and  aromatic 
juices  in  which  that  country  abounds,  and  a  present  more 
precious  than  the  finest  gold,  part  of  our  Saviour's  cross, 
sent  by  pope  Marinus  to  the  king.  He  erected  monasteries 
wherever  he  deemed  it  fitting;  one  in  Athelney,  where  he 
lay  concealed,  as  has  been  above  related,  and  there  he  made 
John  abbat,  a  native  of  Old  Saxony ;  another  at  Winchester, 
which  is  called  the  New -minster,  where  he  appointed  Grim- 
bald  abbat,  who,  at  his  invitation,  had  been  sent  into  Eng- 
land by  Fulco  archbishop  of  Rheims,  known  to  him,  as  they 
say,  by  having  kindly  entertained  him  when  a  child  on  his 
way  to  Rome.  The  cause  of  his  being  sent  for  was  that  by 
his  activity  he  might  awaken  the  study  of  literature  in  Eng- 
land, which  was  now  slumbering  and  almost  expiring.  The 
monastery  of  Shaftesbury  also  he  filled  with  nuns,  where  he 
made  his  daughter  Ethelgiva  abbess.  From  St.  David's  he 
procured  a  person  named  Asser,*  a  man  of  skill  in  literature, 
whom  he  made  bishop  of  Sherborne.  This  man  explained 
the  meaning  of  the  works  of  Boethius,  on  the  Consolation 
of  Philosophy,  in  clearer  terms,  and  the  king  himself  trans- 
lated them  into  the  English  language.  And  since  there  was 
no  good  scholar  in  his  own  kingdom,  he  sent  for  Werefrith 

•  Asser,  the  faithful  friend  and  biographer  of  this  great  king.  His  Life 
of  Alfred,  alike  honourable  to  his  master  and  himself,  is  free  from  flattery. 
It  is  given  in  one  of  the  volumes  of  our  Series. 

A.D.  893.1  STORY  OF   JOHN   THE    SCOT.  119 

bishop  of  Worcester  out  of  Mercia,  who  by  command  of  the 
king  rendered  into  the  English  tongue  the  books  of  Gre- 
gory's Dialogues.  At  this  time  Johannes  Scotus  is  supposed 
to  have  lived;  a  man  of  clear  understanding  and  amazing 
eloquence.  He  had  long  since,  from  the  continued  tumult 
of  war  around  him,  retired  into  France  to  Charles  the  Bald, 
at  whose  request  he  had  translated  the  Hierarchia  of  Diony- 
sius  the  Areopagite,  word  for  word,  out  of  the  Greek  into 
Latin.  He  composed  a  book  also,  which  he  entitled  'xs^i 
(pvffiuv  /xs^i(r/j,ov,  or  Of  the  Division  of  Nature,*  extremely 
useful  in  solving  the  perplexity  of  certain  indispensable  in- 
quiries, if  he  be  pardoned  for  some  things  in  which  he  de- 
viated from  the  opinions  of  the  Latins,  through  too  close 
attention  to  the  Greeks.  In  after  time,  allured  by  the  muni- 
ficence of  Alfred,  he  came  into  England,  and  at  our  monas- 
tery, as  report  says,  was  pierced  with  the  iron  styles  of  the 
boys  whom  he  was  instructing,  and  was  even  looked  upon  as 
a  martyr ;  which  phrase  I  have  not  made  use  of  to  the  dis- 
paragement of  his  holy  spirit,  as  though  it  were  matter  of 
doubt,  especially  as  lus  tomb  on  the  left  side  of  the  altar, 
and  the  verses  of  his  epitaph,  record  his  fame.f  These, 
though  rugged  and  deficient  in  the  polish  of  our  days,  are 
not  so  uncouth  for  ancient  times : 

"  Here  lies  a  saint,  the  sophist  John,  whose  days 
On  earth  were  grac'd  with  deepest  learning's  praise : 
Deera'd  meet  at  last  by  martyrdom  to  gain 
Christ's  kingdom,  where  the  saints  for  ever  reign." 

Confiding  in  these  auxiliaries,  the  king  gave  his  whole 
soul  to  the  cultivation  of  the  liberal  arts,  insomuch  that  no 
Englishman  was  quicker  in  comprehending,  or  more  elegant 
in  translating.  This  was  the  more  remarkable,  because  until 
twelve  years  of  age  he  absolutely  knew  nothing  of  literature.  J 

*  It  has  been  printed  by  Gale,  Oxon,  1681. 

+  John  the  Scot  is  generally  supposed  to  have  died  in  France  before 
A.D.  877,  as  the  letter  of  Anastasius  (Usher's  Sylloge,  Ep.  24,)  addressed 
to  Charles  the  Bald,  who  died  in  that  year,  seems  strongly  to  imply  that  he 
was  not  then  living.  There  is,  however,  no  positive  notice  of  the  time  of 
his  death.  The  story  indeed  has  so  much  the  air  of  one  told  in  Asser  of 
John  abbat  of  Athelney,  that  one  would  almost  suspect  it  was  formed  from 
it :  especially  as  Malmesbury  seems  to  speak  in  a  very  hesitating  manner 
on  the  subject.     V.  Asser,  a  Wise,  p.  62. 

J  Asser  says  he  first  began  his  literary  education,  Nov.  11,  887. 

120  WILLIAM   OF   MALMESBUKY.  [b.  u.  c.  4. 

At  that  time,  lured  by  a  kind  mother,  who  under  the  mask  of 
amusement  promised  that  he  should  have  a  little  book  which 
she  held  in  her  hand  for  a  present  if  he  would  learn  it 
quickly,  he  entered  upon  learning  in  sport  indeed  at  first, 
but  afterwards  drank  of  the  stream  with  unquenchable  avid- 
ity. He  translated  into  English  the  greater  part  of  the 
Roman  authors,  bringing  ofi*  the  noblest  spoil  of  foreign 
intercourse  for  the  use  of  his  subjects ;  of  which  the  chief 
books  were  Orosius,  Gregory's  Pastoral,  Bede's  History  of 
the  Angles,  Boethius  Of  the  Consolation  of  Philosophy,  his 
own  book,  which  he  called  in  his  vernacular  tongue  "  Hand- 
boc,"  that  is,  a  manual.*  Moreover  he  infused  a  great  re- 
gard for  literature  into  his  countrymen,  stimulating  them 
both  with  rewards  and  punishments,  allowing  no  ignorant 
person  to  aspire  to  any  dignity  in  the  court.  He  died  just 
as  he  had  begun  a  translation  of  the  Psalms.  Jn  the  pro- 
logue to  "  The  Pastoral "  he  observes,  "  that  he  was  incited 
to  translate  these  books  into  English  because  the  churches 
which  had  formerly  contained  numerous  libraries  had,  to- 
gether with  their  books,  been  burnt  by  the  Danes."  And 
again,  "that  the  pursuit  of  literature  had  gone  to  decay 
almost  over  the  whole  island,  because  each  person  was  more 
occupied  in  the  preservation  of  his  life  than  in  the  perusal 
of  books;  wherefore  he  so  far  consulted  the  good  of  his 
countrymen,  that  they  might  now  hastily  view  what  here- 
after, if  peace  should  ever  return,  they  might  thoroughly 
comprehend  in  the  Latin  language."  Again,  "  That  he  de- 
signed to  transmit  this  book,  transcribed  by  his  order,  to 
every  see,  with  a  golden  style  in  which  was  a  mancus  of 
gold;  that  there  was  nothing  of  his  own  opinions  inserted 
in  this  or  his  other  translations,  but  that  everything  was 
derived  from  those  celebrated  men  Plegmundf  archbishop 
of  Canterbury,  Asser  the  bishop,  Grimbald  and  John  the 
priests."     But,  in  short,  I  may  thus  briefly  elucidate  his 

*  Alfred's  Manual,  from  the  description  which  Asser  gives  of  it,  appears 
to  have  contained  psalms,  prayers,  texts  of  Scripture,  etc. :  Malmesbury, 
however,  in  his  Lives  of  the  Bishops,  quotes  anecdotes  of  Aldhelm  from 
it  also. 

+  Plegmund  is  said  to  have  written  part  of  the  Saxon  Chronicle ;  Asser 
was  archbishop  of  St.  David's,  and  biographer  of  Alfred ;  Grimbald, 
abbat  of  St.  Omers;  and  John  of  Corvey,  a  German  Saxon,  whom  Alfred 
invited  into  England. 

A.D.  893.]  KING  Alfred's  death.  121 

whole  life :  he  so  divided  the  twenty-four  hours  of  the  day 
and  night  as  to  employ  eight  of  them  in  writing,  in  reading, 
and  in  prayer,  eight  in  the  refreshment  of  his  body,  and 
eight  in  dispatching  the  business  of  the  realm.  There  was 
in  his  chapel  a  candle  consisting  of  twenty-four  divisions, 
and  an  attendant,  whose  peculiar  province  it  was  to  ad- 
monish the  king  of  his  several  duties  by  its  consumption. 
One  half  of  all  revenues,  provided  they  were  justly  acquired, 
he  gave  to  his*  monasteries,  all  his  other  income  he  divided 
into  two  equal  parts,  the  first  was  again  subdivided  into 
three,  of  which  the  first  was  given  to  the  servants  of  his 
court,  the  second  to  artificers  whom  he  constantly  employed 
in  the  erection  of  new  edifices,  in  a  manner  surprising  and 
hitherto  unknown  to  the  English,  the  third  he  gave  to 
strangers.  The  second  part  of  the  revenue  was  divided  in 
such  a  mode  that  the  first  portion  should  be  given  to  the 
poor  of  his  kingdom,  the  second  to  the  monasteries,  the 
third  to  scholars,!  the  fourth  to  foreign  churches.  He  was 
a  strict  inquirer  into  the  sentences  passed  by  his  magistrates, 
and  a  severe  corrector  of  such  as  were  unjust.  He  had  one 
unusual  and  unheard  of  custom,  which  was,  that  he  always 
carried  in  his  bosom  a  book  in  wliich  the  daily  order  of  the 
Psalms  was  contained,  for  the  purpose  of  carefully  perusing 
it,  if  at  any  time  he  had  leisure.  In  this  way  he  passed  his 
life,  much  respected  by  neighbouring  princes,  and  gave  his 
daughter  Ethelswitha  in  marriage  to  Baldwin  earl  of  Flan- 
ders, by  whom  he  had  Arnulf  and  Ethelwulf ;  the  former 
received  from  his  father  the  county  of  Boulogne,  from  the 
other  at  this  day  are  descended  the  earls  of  Flanders.J 

Alfred,  paying  the  debt  of  nature,  was  buried  at  Winches- 
ter, in  the  monastery  which  he  had  founded  ;  to  build  the 
offices  of  which  Edward,  his  son,  purchased  a  sufficient  space 
of  ground  from  the  bishop  and  canons,  giving,  for  every  foot, 
a  mancus  of  gold  of  the  statute  weight.     The  endurance  of 

*  Asser  says  he  devoted  one  half  of  his  income  "to  God;"  which  part 
was  afterwards  subdivided  for  the  poor,  for  the  two  monasteries  he  had 
founded,  for  the  school  he  had  established,  for  other  monasteries  and 
churches,  domestic  and  foreign. 

t  This  proportion  was  for  both  teachers  and  pupils  in  the  school  he 
founded  for  the  young  nobility. — Lappenberg^  vol.  i.  p.  340. 

X  Matilda,  queen  of  William  the  First,  was  daughter  of  Baldwin  earl  of 
Flanders,  the  fifth  in  descent  from  Ethelswitha.     See  note,  p.  110. 

122  -WILLIAM   OF   MALMESBURT.  [b.  ii.  c.  5. 

the  king  was  astonishing,  in  suffering  such  a  sum  to  be 
extorted  from  him  ;  but  he  did  not  choose  to  offer  a  sacrifice 
to  God  from  the  robbery  of  the  poor.  These  two  churches 
were  so  contiguous,  that,  when  singing,  they  heard  each 
others'  voices ;  on  this  and  other  accounts  an  unhappy 
jealousy  was  daily  stirring  up  causes  of  dissension,  which 
produced  frequent  injuries  on  either  side.  For  this  reason 
that  monastery  was  lately  removed  out  of  the  city,  and 
became  a  more  healthy,  as  well  as  a  more  conspicuous,  resi- 
dence. They  report  that  Alfred  was  first  buried  in  the 
cathedral,  because  his  monastery  was  unfinished,  but  that 
afterwards,  on  account  of  the  folly  of  the  canons,  who  as- 
serted that  the  royal  spirit,  resuming  its  carcass,  wandered 
nightly  through  the  buildings,  Edward,  his  son  and  suc- 
cessor, removed  the  remains  of  his  father,  and  gave  them  a 
quiet  resting-place  in  the  new  minster.  *  These  and  similar 
superstitions,  such  as  that  the  dead  body  of  a  wicked  man 
runs  about,  after  death,  by  the  agency  of  the  devil,  the  Eng- 
lish hold  with  almost  inbred  credulity,  "j*  borrowing  them 
from  the  heathens,  according  to  the  expression  of  Virgil, 

"  Forms  such  as  flit,  they  say,  when  life  is  gone."^ 

CHAP.  V. 

Of  Edward  the  son  of  A  If  red.     [a.d.  90 1—924.] 

In  the  year  of  our  Lord's  incarnation,  901,  Edward,  the  son 
of  Alfred,  succeeded  to  the  government,  and  held  it  twenty 
three  years  :  he  was  much  inferior  to  his  father  in  literature, 
but  greatly  excelled  in  extent  of  power.  For  Alfred,  indeed, 
united  the  two  kingdoms  of  the  Mercian  and  West  Saxons, 
holding  that  of  the  Mercians  only  nominally,  as  he  had 
assigned  it  to  prince  Ethelred  :  but  at  his  death  Edward 
first  brought  the  Mercians  altogether  under  his  power,  next, 
the  West§  and  East  Angles,  and  Northumbrians,  who  had 

•  On  its  removal  called  Hyde  Abbey. 

+  The  popular  notion  was,  that  the' devil  re-animated  the  corpse,  and 
played  a  variety  of  pranks  by  its  agency;  and  that  the  only  remedy  was  to 
dig  up  and  consume  the  body  with  fire.     See  Will.  Neubrig  v.  22. 

%  Virg.  ^neid,  x.  641. 

§  By  West- Angles  he  probably  intends  the  people  of  Essex  or  East- 
Saxons.    See  Florence  of  Worcester. 

A-D.  901.J  EDWARD.  123 

become  one  nation  with  the  Danes  ;  the  Scots,  who  inhabit 
the  northern  part  of  the  island  ;  and  all  the  Britons,  whom 
we  call  Welsh,  after  perpetual  battles,  in  which  he  was 
always  successful.  He  devised  a  mode  of  frustrating  the 
incursions  of  the  Danes  ;  for  he  repaired  many  ancient  cities, 
or  built  new  ones,  in  places  calculated  for  his  purpose,  and 
filled  them  with  a  military  force,  to  protect  the  inhabitants 
and  repel  the  enemy.  Nor  was  his  design  unsuccessful ;  for 
the  inhabitants  became  so  extremely  valorous  in  these  con- 
tests, that  if  they  heard  of  an  enemy  approaching,  they 
rushed  out  to  give  them  battle,  even  without  consulting  the 
king  or  his  generals,  and  constantly  surpassed  them,  both  in 
number  and  in  warlike  skill.  Thus  the  enemy  became  an 
object  of  contempt  to  the  soldiery  and  of  derision  to  the 
king.  At  last  some  fresh  assailants,  who  had  come  over 
under  the  command  of  Ethelwald,  the  son  of  the  king's 
uncle,  were  all,  together  with  himself,  cut  off  to  a  man  ; 
those  before,  settled  in  the  country,  being  either  destroyed 
or  spared  under  the  denomination  of  Angles.  Ethelwald 
indeed  had  attempted  many  things  in  the  earlier  days  of  this 
king  ;  and,  disdaining  subjection  to  him,  declared  himself 
his  inferior  neither  in  birth  nor  valour  ;  but  being  driven 
into  exile  by  the  nobility,  who  had  sworn  allegiance  to 
Edward,  he  brought  over  the  pirates  ;  with  whom,  meeting 
his  death,  as  I  have  related,  he  gave  proof  of  the  folly  of 
resisting  those  who  are  our  superiors  in  power.  Although 
Edward  may  be  deservedly  praised  for  these  transactions, 
yet,  in  my  opinion,  the  palm  should  be  more  especially  given 
to  his  father,  who  certainly  laid  the  foundation  of  this  extent 
of  dominion.  And  here  indeed  Ethelfled,  sister  of  the 
king  and  relict  of  Ethered,  ought  not  to  be  forgotten,  as  she 
was  a  powerful  accession  to  his  party,  the  delight  of  his  sub- 
jects, the  dread  of  his  enemies,  a  woman  of  an  enlarged  soul, 
who,  from  the  difficulty  experienced  in  her  first  labour,  ever 
after  refused  the  embraces  of  her  husband ;  protesting  that 
it  was  unbecoming  the  daughter  of  a  king  to  give  way  to  a 
delight  which,  after  a  time,  produced  such  painful  conse- 
quences. This  spirited  heroine  assisted  her  brother  greatly 
with  her  advice,  was  of  equal  service  in  building  cities,  nor 
could  you  easily  discern,  whether  it  was  more  owing  to  for- 
tune or  her  own  exertions,  that  a  woman  should  be  able  to 

12'4  WILLIAM   OF   MALMESBtJRT.  [b.  ii.  c.  5. 

protect  men  at  home,  and  to  intimidate  them  abroad.  She 
died  five  years  before  her  brother,  and  was  buried  in  the 
monastery  of  St.  Peter's,  at  Grloucester;  which,  in  conjunc- 
tion with  her  husband,  Ethered,  she  had  erected  with  great 
solicitude.  Thither  too  she  had  transferred  the  bones  of  St. 
Oswald,  the  king,  from  Bardney ;  but  this  monastery  being 
destroyed  in  succeeding  time  by  the  Danes,  Aldred,  arch- 
bishop of  York,  founded  another,  which  is  now  the  chief  in 
that  city. 

As  the  king  had  many  daughters,  he  gave  Edgiva  to 
Charles,  king  of  France,  the  son  of  Lewis  the  Stammerer, 
son  of  Charles  the  Bald,  whose  daughter,  as  I  have  repeat- 
edly observed,  Ethelwulf  had  married  on  his  return  from 
Rome ;  and,  as  the  opportunity  has  now  presented  itself,  the 
candid  reader  will  not  think  it  irrelevant,  if  I  state  the 
names  of  his  wives  and  children.  By  Egwina,  an  illustrious 
lady,  he  had  Athelstan,  his  first-born,  and  a  daughter,  whose 
name  I  cannot  particularise,  but  her  brother  gave  her  in 
marriage  to  Sihtric,  king  of  the  Northumbrians.  The  second 
son  of  Edward  was  Ethelward,  by  Elfleda,  daughter  of  earl 
Etheline ;  deeply  versed  in  literature,  much  resembling  his 
grandfather  Alfred  in  features  and  disposition,  but  who  de- 
parted, by  an  early  death,  soon  after  his  father.  By  the 
same  wife  he  had  Edwin,  of  whose  fate  what  the  received 
opinion  is  I  shall  hereafter  describe,  not  with  confidence,  but 
doubtingly.  By  her  too  he  had  six  daughters;  Edfleda, 
Edgiva,  Ethelhilda,  Ethilda,  Edgitha,  Elgifa:  the  first  and 
third  vowing  celibacy  to  God,  renounced  the  pleasure  oi 
earthly  nuptials  ;  Edfleda  in  a  religious,  and  Ethelhilda  in  a 
lay  habit :  they  both  lie  buried  near  their  mother,  at  Win- 
chester. Her  father  gave  Edgiva,  as  I  have  mentioned,  to 
king  Charles,*  and  her  brother,  Athelstan,  gave  Ethilda  to 
Hugh:f  this  same  brother  also  sent  Edgitha  and  Elgifa  to 
Henry,  |  emperor  of  Germany,  the  second  of  whom  he  gave 
to  his  son  Otho,  the  other  to  a  certain  duke,  near  the  Alps. 

•  Charles  the  Simple  had  one  son  by  her,  Louis  II.,  surnamed 

f  Surnamed  the  Great:  father  of  Hugh  Capet:  she  had  no  issue  by  him. 

:J:  Henry,  surnamed  the  Fowler,  father  of  Otho  the  Great.  She  had  a 
son  and  daughter  by  him.  One  of  Edward's  daughters,  called  Adela,  is 
said  to  have  been  married  to  Ebles,  earl  of  Poitiers,  by  whom  she  had  two' 
sous.    See  L'Art  de  Verifier  les  Dates,  ii.  312. 

A.D.  912.]  EDWAED.  125 

Again ;  by  his  third  wife,  named  Edgiva,  he  had  two  sons, 
Edmund  and  Edred,  each  of  whom  reigned  after  Athelstan : 
two  daughters,  Eadburga,  and  Edgiva ;  Eadburga,  a  virgin, 
dedicated  to  Christ,  lies  buried  at  Winchester;  Edgiva,  a 
lady  of  incomparable  beauty,  was  united,  by  her  brother 
Athelstan,  to  Lewis,  prince  of  Aquitaine.*  Edward  had 
brought  up  his  daughters  in  such  wise,  that  in  childhood 
they  gave  their  whole  attention  to  literature,  and  afterwards 
employed  themselves  in  the  labours  of  the  distaff  and  the 
needle,  that  thus  they  might  chastely  pass  their  virgin  age. 
His  sons  were  so  educated,  as,  first,  to  have  the  completest 
benefit  of  learning,  that  afterwards  they  might  succeed  to 
govern  the  state,  not  like  rustics,  but  philosophers. 

Charles,  the  son-in-law  of  Edward,  constrained  thereto  by 
Rollo,  through  a  succession  of  calamities,  conceded  to  him 
that  part  of  Gaul  which  at  present  is  called  Normandy.  It 
would  be  tedious  to  relate  for  how  many  years,  and  with 
what  audacity,  the  Normans  disquieted  every  place  from  the 
British  ocean,  as  I  have  said,  to  the  Tuscan  sea.  First 
Hasten,  and  then  Rollo ;  who,  born  of  noble  lineage  among 
the  Norwegians,  though  obsolete  from  its  extreme  antiquity, 
was  banished,  by  the  king's  command,  from  his  own  country, 
and  brought  over  with  him  multitudes,  who  were  in  danger, 
either  from  debt  or  consciousness  of  guilt,  and  whom  he  had 
allured  by  great  expectations  of  advantage.  Betaking  him- 
self therefore  to  piracy,  after  his  cruelty  had  raged  on 
every  side  at  pleasure,  he  experienced  a  check  at  Chartres. 
For  the  townspeople,  relying  neither  on  arms  nor  fortifica- 
tions, piously  implored  the  assistance  of  the  blessed  Virgin 
Mary.  The  shift  too  of  the  virgin,  which  Charles  the  Bald 
had  brought  with  other  relics  from  Constantinople,  they 
displayed  to  the  winds  on  the  ramparts,  thronged  by -the 
garrison,  after  the  fashion  of  a  banner.  The  enemy  on  see- 
ing it  began  to  laugh,  and  to  direct  their  arrows  at  it.  This, 
however,  was  not  done  with  impunity;  for  presently  their 
eyes  became  dim,  and  they  could  neither  retreat  nor  ad- 
vance.    The  townsmen,  vdth  joy  perceiving  this,  indulged 

*  This  seems  to  have  been  Lewis  the  Blind,  king  of  Aries:  and  if  so, 
she  must  have  been  one  of  the  elder  daughters,  as  he  appears  not  to  have 
survived  a.d.  930.  She  had,  at  least,  one  son  by  him,  Charles  Constantine, 
earl  of  Vienne.     See  L'Art  de  Verifier  les  Dates,  ii.  429. 

126  WILLIAM   OF   MALMESBURT.  [b.  ir.  c.  5. 

themselves  in  a  plentiful  slaughter  of  them,  as  far  as  fortune 
permitted.  Rollo,  however,  virhom  God  reserved  for  the 
true  faith,  escaped,  and  soon  after  gained  Rouen  and  the 
neighbouring  cities  by  force  of  arms,  in  the  year  of  our  Lord 
876,  and  one  year  before  the  death  of  Charles  the  Bald, 
whose  grandson  Lewis,  as  is  before  mentioned,  vanquished 
the  Normans,  but  did  not  expel  them:  but  Charles,  the 
brother  of  that  Lewis,  grandson  of  Charles  the  Bald,  by  his 
son  Lewis,  as  I  have  said  above,  repeatedly  experiencing, 
from  unsuccessful  conflicts,  that  fortune  gave  him  nothing 
which  she  took  from  others,  resolved,  after  consulting  his 
nobility,  that  it  was  advisable  to  make  a  show  of  royal 
munificence,  when  he  was  unable  to  repel  injury ;  and,  in  a 
friendly  manner,  sent  for  Rollo.  He  was  at  this  time  far 
advanced  in  years  ;  and,  consequently,  easily  inclined  to 
pacific  measures.  It  was  therefore  determined  by  treaty, 
that  he  should  be  baptized,  and  hold  that  country  of  the 
king  as  his  lord.  The  inbred  and  untameable  ferocity  of  the 
man  may  well  be  imagined,  for,  on  receiving  this  gift,  as  the 
by  standers  suggested  to  him,  that  he  ought  to  kiss  the  foot 
of  his  benefactor,  disdaining  to  kneel  down,  he  seized  the 
king's  foot  and  dragged  it  to  his  mouth  as  he  stood  erect. 
The  king  falling  on  liis  back,  the  Normans  began  to  laugh, 
and  the  Franks  to  be  indignant;  but  Rollo  apologized  for 
his  shameful  conduct,  by  saying  that  it  was  the  custom  of 
his  country.  Thus  the  affair  being  settled,  RoUo  xeturned 
to  Rouen,  and  there  died. 

The  son  of  this  Charles  was  Lewis  :  he  being  challenged 
by  one  Isembard,  that  had  turned  pagan,  and  renounced  his 
faith,  called  upon  his  nobility  for  their  assistance  :  they  not 
even  deigned  an  answer ;  when  one  Hugh,  son  of  Robert, 
earl  of  Mont  Didier,  a  youth  of  no  great  celebrity  at  the 
time,  voluntarily  entered  the  lists  for  his  lord  and  killed  the 
challenger.  Lewis,  vdth  his  whole  army  pursuing  to  Pon- 
thieu,  gained  there  a  glorious  triumph  ;  either  destroying  or 
putting  to  flight  all  the  barbarians  whom  Isembard  had 
brought  with  him.  But  not  long  after,  weakened  by  ex- 
treme sickness,  the  consequence  of  this  laborious  expedition, 
he  appointed  this  Hugh,  a  young  man  of  noted  faith  and 
courage,  heir  to  the  kingdom.  Thus  the  lineage  of  Charles 
the  Great  ceased  with  him,  because  either  his  wife  was  bar- 

A.D.  912.]  POPE  FORMOSUS.  127 

ren,  or  else  did  not  live  long  enough  to  have  issue.  Hugh 
married  one  of  the  daughters  of  Edward,*  and  begot  Robert ; 
Robert  begot  Henry  ;  Henry,  Philip  ;  and  Philip,  Lewis, 
who  now  reigns  in  France.  But  to  return  to  our  Edward  : 
I  think  it  will  be  pleasing  to  relate  what  in  his  time  pope 
Formosus  commanded  to  be  done  with  respect  to  filling  up 
the  bishoprics,  which  I  shall  insert  in  the  very  words  I  found 

"  In  the  year  of  our  Lord's  nativity  904,  pope  Formosus 
sent  letters  into  England,  by  which  he  denounced  excommu- 
nication and  malediction  to  king  Edward  and  all  his  subjects, 
instead  of  the  benediction  which  St.  Gregory  had  given  to 
the  English  nation  from  the  seat  of  St.  Peter,  because  for 
seven  whole  years  the  entire  district  of  the  Gewissae,  that  is, 
of  the  West- Saxons,  had  been  destitute  of  bishops.  On  hear- 
ing this,  king  Edward  assembled  a  council  of  the  senators  of 
the  English,  over  which  presided  Plegmund,  archbishop  of 
Canterbury,  interpreting  carefully  the  words  of  the  apostolic 
legation.  Then  the  king  and  the  bishops  chose  for  them- 
selves and  their  followers  a  salutary  council,  and,  according 
to  our  Saviour's  words,  '  The  harvest  truly  is  plenteous,  but 
the  labourers  are  few,'  J  they  elected  and  appointed  one  bi- 
shop to  every  province  of  the  Gewissae,  and  that  district  which 
two  formerly  possessed  they  divided  into  five.     The  council 

•  This  is  a  mistake  :  Hugh  is  confounded  with  his  father,  who  married 
Edward's  daughter.  There  is  no  notice  of  this  exploit  of  Hugh's  in  Bou- 
quet, though  Isembard  is  mentioned  as  the  nephew  of  Lewis,  who,  being 
unjustly  banished,  returns  accompanied  by  a  large  body  of  Danes  and  Nor- 
mans, but  is  defeated.  Bouquet,  Recueil,  &c.  tom.  ix.  58.  Lewis,  how- 
ever, left  issue,  and  it  was  on  the  death  of  his  grandson  Lewis,  that  Hugh 
Capet  became  king  of  France. 

f  This  story  of  pope  Formosus  and  the  seven  bishops  is  to  be  foimd 
verbatim  in  a  MS.  (Bodley,  579)  which  was  given  to  the  cathedral  of  Exe- 
ter by  bishop  Leofiric,  who  died  a.d.  1073.  Its  difficulties  therefore  are 
not  to  be  imputed  to  our  author.  But  though  it  may  not  be  easy  to  assign 
a  rational  motive  for  the  invention  of  such  an  instrument,  it  is  a  decided 
forgery  ;  and  all  the  ecclesiastical  writers,  from  Baronius  to  Wilkins,  [See 
Concilia,  i.  p.  201,]  have  utterly  failed  in  their  conjectural  attempts  to  up- 
hold it :  even  the  temperate,  the  acute,  the  learned  Henry  Wharton  [An- 
glia  Sacra,  i.  55i,  5],  who  rejects  decidedly  the  epistle,  gives  but  an  un- 
satisfactory solution  of  the  seven  vacant  sees.  Its  repugnancies  will  be 
seen  at  a  glance,  when  it  is  recollected,  that  Formosus  died  a.d.  896  ; 
Edward  did  not  reign  till  a.d.  901 ;  and  Frithstan  did  not  become  bishop 
of  Winchester  before  a.d.  910. 

X  Matt.  ix.  37. 

128  WILLIAM   OF   MALMESBURY.  [b.  ii.  c.  6. 

being  dissolved,  the  archbishop  went  to  Rome  with  splendid 
presents,  appeased  the  pope  with  much  humility,  and  related 
the  king's  ordinance,  which  gave  the  pontiff  great  satisfac- 
tion. Returning  home,  in  one  day  he  ordained  in  the  city  of 
Canterbury  seven  bishops  to  seven  churches  : — Frithstan  to 
the  church  of  Winchester  ;  Athelstan  to  Cornwall ;  Werstan 
to  Sherborne  ;  Athelelm  to  Wells  ;  Aidulf  to  Crediton  in 
Devonshire  :  also  to  other  provinces  he  appointed  two  bi- 
shops ;  to  the  South- Saxons,  Bernegus,  a  very  proper  person ; 
and  to  the  Mercians,  Cenulph,  whose  see  was  at  Dorchester, 
in  Oxfordshire.  All  this  the  pope  established,  in  such  wise, 
that  he  who  should  invalidate  this  decree  should  be  damned 

Edward,  going  the  way  of  all  flesh,  rested  in  the  same  mo- 
nastery with  his  father,  which  he  had  augmented  with  con- 
siderable revenues,  and  in  which  he  had  buried  his  brother 
Ethelward  four  years  before. 


Of  Athelstan,  the  son  of  Edward,     [a.d.  924 — 940.] 

In  the  year  of  our  Lord's  incarnation  924,  Athelstan,  the  son 
of  Edward,  began  to  reign,  and  held  the  sovereignty  sixteen 
years.  His  brother,  Ethelward,  dying  a  few  days  after  his 
father,  had  been  buried  with  him  at  Winchester.  At  this 
place,  therefore,  Athelstan,  being  elected  king  by  the  unani- 
mous consent  of  the  nobility,  he  was  crowned  at  a  royal 
town,  which  is  called  Kingston  ;  though  one  Elfred,  whose 
death  we  shall  hereafter  relate  in  the  words  of  the  king,  with 
his  factious  party,  as  sedition  never  wants  adherents,  at- 
tempted to  prevent  it.  The  ground  of  his  opposition,  as 
they  affirm,  was,  that  Athelstan  was  born  of  a  concubine. 
But  having  nothing  ignoble  in  him,  except  this  stain,  if  after 
all  it  be  true,  he  cast  aU  his  predecessors  into  the  shade  by 
his  piety,  as  well  as  the  glory  of  all  their  triumphs,  by  the 
splendour  of  his  own.  So  much  more  excellent  is  it  to  have 
that  for  which  we  are  renowned  inherent,  than  derived  from 
our  ancestors  ;  because  the  former  is  exclusively  our  own, 
the  latter  is  imputable  to  others.  I  forbear  relating  how 
many  new  and  magnificent  monasteries  he  founded ;  but  I 
will  not  conceal  that  there  was  scarcely  an  old  one  in  Eng- 

A.D.  927.]  ATHELSTAN.  129 

land  which  he  did  not  embellish,  either  with  buildings,  or 
ornaments,  or  books,  or  possessions.  Thus  he  ennobled  the 
new  ones  expressly,  but  the  old,  as  though  they  were  only 
casual  objects  of  his  kindness.  With  Sihtric,  king  of  the 
Northumbrians,  who  married,  as  I  have  before  said,  one  of 
his  sisters,  he  made  a  lasting  covenant ;  he  dying  after  a 
year,  Athelstan  took  that  province  under  his  own  govern- 
ment, expelUng  one  Aldulph,  who  resisted  liim.  And  as  a 
noble  mind,  when  once  roused,  aspires  to  greater  things,  he 
compelled  Jothwel,  king  of  all  the  Welsh,  and  Constantine, 
king  of  the  Scots,  to  quit  their  kingdoms  ;  but  not  long  after, 
moved  with  commiseration,  he  restored  them  to  their  origi- 
nal state,  that  they  might  reign  under  him,  saying,  "  it  was 
more  glorious  to  make  than  to  be  a  king."  His  last  contest 
was  with  Anlaf,  the  son  of  Sihtric,  who,  with  the  before- 
named  Constantine,  again  in  a  state  of  rebellion,  had  entered 
his  territories  under  the  hope  of  gaining  the  kingdom. 
Athelstan  purposely  retreating,  that  he  might  derive  greater 
honour  from  vanquishing  his  furious  assailants,  this  bold 
youth,  meditating  unlawful  conquests,  had  now  proceeded 
far  into  England,  when  he  was  opposed  at  Bruneford*  by  the 
most  experienced  generals,  and  most  valiant  forces.  Per- 
ceiving, at  length,  what  danger  hung  over  him,  he  assumed 
the  character  of  a  spy.  Laying  aside  his  royal  ensigns,  and 
taking  a  harp  in  his  hand,  he  proceeded  to  our  king's  tent : 
singing  before  the  entrance,  and  at  times  touching  the  trem- 
bling strings  in  harmonious  cadence,  he  was  readily  admitted, 
professing  liimself  a  minstrel,  who  procured  his  daily  suste- 
nance by  such  employment.  Here  he  entertained  the  king 
and  his  companions  for  some  time  with  his  musical  perform- 
ance, carefully  examining  everything  while  occupied  in  sing- 
ing. When  satiety  of  eating  had  put  an  end  to  their  sensual 
enjoyments,  and  the  business  of  war  was  resumed  among  the 
nobles,  he  was  ordered  to  depart,  and  received  the  recom- 
pence  of  his  song  ;  but  disdaining  to  take  it  away,  he  hid  it 
beneath  him  in  the  earth.  This  circumstance  was  remarked 
by  a  person,  who  had  formerly  served  under  him,  and  im- 
mediately related  it  to  Athelstan.     The  king,  blaming  him 

*  In  the  Saxon  Chronicle  it  is  called  Brumby.  [See  Chronicles  of  tli^ 
Anglo-Saxons,  in  Bohn's  Antiquarian  Library,  pp.  376,  377.]  Its  site  is 
not  exactly  known,  but  it  was  probably  not  far  from  the  Humber. 


130  WILLIAM   OP   MALMESBURT.  [b.ii.c.6. 

extremely  for  not  having  detected  his  enemy  as  he  stood  be- 
fore them,  received  this  answer  :  "  The  same  oath,  which  I 
have  lately  sworn  to  you,  O  king,  I  formerly  made  to  An- 
laf ;  and  had  you  seen  me  violate  it  towards  him,  you  might 
have  expected  similar  perfidy  towards  yourself:  but  con- 
descend to  listen  to  the  advice  of  your  servant,  which  is,  that 
you  should  remove  your  tent  hence,  and  remaining  in  another 
place  till  the  residue  of  the  army  come  up,  you  will  destroy 
your  ferocious  enemy  by  a  moderate  delay."  Approving 
this  admonition,  he  removed  to  another  place.  Anlaf  ad- 
vancing, well  prepared,  at  night,  put  to  death,  together  with 
the  whole  of  his  followers,  a  certain  bishop,*  who  had  joined 
the  army  only  the  evening  before,  and,  ignorant  of  what  had 
passed,  had  pitched  his  tent  there  on  account  of  the  level 
turf.  Proceeding  farther,  he  found  the  king  himself  equally 
unprepared  ;  who,  little  expecting  his  enemy  capable  of  such 
an  attack,  had  indulged  in  profound  repose.  But,  when 
roused  from  his  sleep  by  the  excessive  tumult,  and  urging 
his  people,  as  much  as  the  darkness  of  the  night  would  per- 
mit, to  the  conflict,  his  sword  fell  by  chance  from  the  sheath  ; 
upon  which,  while  all  things  were  filled  with  dread  and  blind 
confusion,  he  invoked  the  protection  of  God  and  of  St.  Aid- 
helm,  who  was  distantly  related  to  him  ;  and  replacing  his 
hand  upon  the  scabbard,  he  there  found  a  sword,  which  is 
kept  to  this  day,  on  account  of  the  miracle,  in  the  treasury 
of  the  kings.  Moreover,  it  is,  as  they  say,  chased  in  one  part, 
but  can  never  be  inlaid  either  with  gold  or  silver.  Confiding 
in  this  divine  present,  and  at  the  same  time,  as  it  began  to 
dawn,  attacking  the  Norwegian,  he  continued  the  battle 
unwearied  through  the  day,  and  put  him  to  flight  with  his 
whole  army.  There  fell  Constantine,  king  of  the  Scots,  a 
man  of  treacherous  energy  and  vigorous  old  age  ;  five  other 
kings,  twelve  earls,  and  almost  the  whole  assemblage  of  bar- 
barians. The  few  who  escaped  were  preserved  to  embrace 
the  faith  of  Christ. 

Concerning  this  king  a  strong  persuasion  is  prevalent 
among  the  English,  that  one  more  just  or  learned  never  go- 
verned the  kingdom.     That  he  was  versed  in  literature,  I 

*  Said  to  be  Werstan,  bishop  of  Sherborne.  See  Malmesbury's  Gesta 
Pontificum  ;  or,  Lives  of  the  Bishops,  to  be  hereafter  translated  and  pub- 
lished in  this  series. 

A.D.924.J  ATHELSTAN.  131 

discovered  a  few  days  since,  in  a  certain  old  volume,  wherein 
the  writer  struggles  with  the  difficulty  of  the  task,  unable  to 
express  his  meaning  as  he  wished.  Indeed  I  would  subjoin 
his  words  for  brevity's  sake,  were  they  not  extravagant  be- 
yond belief  in  the  praises  of  the  king,  and  just  in  that  style 
of  writing  which  Cicero,  the  prince  of  Roman  eloquence, 
in  his  book  on  Rhetoric,  denominates  "  bombast."  The  cus- 
tom of  that  time  excuses  the  diction,  and  the  affection  for 
Athelstan,  who  was  yet  living,  gave  coimtenance  to  the  ex- 
cess of  praise.  I  shall  subjoin,  therefore,  in  familiar  lan- 
guage, some  few  circumstances  which  may  tend  to  augment 
Ms  reputation. 

King  Edward,  after  many  noble  exploits,  both  in  war  and 
peace,  a  few  days  before  his  death  subdued  the  contumacy  of 
the  city  of  Chester,  which  was  rebelling  in  confederacy  with 
the  Britons;  and  placing  a  garrison  there,  he  fell  sick  and 
died  at  Faringdon,  and  was  buried,  as  I  before  related,  at 
Winchester.  Athelstan,  as  his  father  had  commanded  in  his 
will,  was  then  hailed  king,  recommended  by  his  years, — for 
he  was  now  thirty, — and  the  maturity  of  his  wisdom.  For 
even  his  grandfather  Alfred,  seeing  and  embracing  him  affec- 
tionately when  he  was  a  boy  of  astonishing  beauty  and 
graceful  manners,  had  most  devoutly  prayed  that  his  govern- 
ment might  be  prosperous :  indeed,  he  had  made  him  a 
knight*  unusually  early,  giving  him  a  scarlet  cloak,  a  belt 
studded  with  diamonds,  and  a  Saxon  sword  with  a  golden 
scabbard.  Next  he  had  provided  that  he  should  be  educated 
in  the  court  of  Ethelfled  his  daughter,  and  of  his  son-in- 
law  Ethered ;  so  that,  having  been  brought  up  in  expecta- 
tion of  succeeding  to  the  kingdom,  by  the  tender  care  of  his 
aunt  and  of  this  celebrated  prince,  he  repressed  and  destroyed 
all  envy  by  the  lustre  of  his  good  qualities  ;  and,  after  the 
death  of  his  father,  and  decease  of  his  brother,  he  was 
crowned  at  Kingston.  Hence,  to  celebrate  such  splendid 
events,  and  the  joy  of  that  illustrious  day,  the  poet  justly 
exclaims  : 

*  This  passage  is  thought  to  prove  the  existence  of  knights  as  a  distinct 
order  among  the  Saxons ;  and,  coupled  with  the  case  of  Hereward,  it  has 
very  much  that  air.  See  Mr.  Turner's  Anglo-Saxons,  4,  171,  et  inf.  But 
perhaps  in  the  present  instance,  it  may  amount  to  nothing  more  than 
bestowing  his  first  arms  on  him.  Lewis  the  Debonnaire  received  his  arms, 
*^  ease  accinctus  est,"  at  thirteen  yeirs  old. — Duchesne,  t.  ii.  289. 


132  WILLIAM  OF   MALMESBUKT.  [b.  ii.  c  6. 

Of  royal  race  a  noble  stem 
Hath  chased  our  darkness  like  a  gem. 
Great  Athelstan,  his  country's  pride, 
Whose  virtue  never  turns  aside  ; 
Sent  by  his  father  to  the  schools, 
Patient,  he  bore  their  rigid  rules. 
And  drinking  deep  of  science  mild. 
Passed  his  first  years  unlike  a  child. 
Next  clothed  in  youth's  bewitching  charms. 
Studied  the  harsher  lore  of  arms, 
Which  soon  confessed  his  knowledge  keen. 
As  after  in  the  sovereign  seen. 
Soon  as  his  father,  good  and  great, 
Yielded,  though  ever  famed,  to  fate. 
The  youth  was  called  the  realm  to  guide, 
And,  like  his  parent,  well  preside. 
The  nobles  meet,  the  crown  present. 
On  rebels,  prelates  curses  vent ; 
The  people  light  the  festive  fires, 
And  show  by  turns  their  kind  desires. 
Their  deeds  their  loyalty  declare, 
Though  hopes  and  fears  their  bosoms  share. 
With  festive  treat  the  court  abounds  ; 
Foams  the  brisk  wine,  the  hall  resounds  : 
The  pages  run,  the  servants  haste. 
And  food  and  verse  regale  the  taste. 
The  minstrels  sing,  the  guests  commend, 
Whilst  all  in  praise  to  Christ  contend. 
The  king  with  pleasure  all  things  sees. 
And  all  his  kind  attentions  please. 

The  solemnity  of  tlie  consecration  being  finished,  Athel- 
stan, that  he  might  not  deceive  the  expectation  of  his  subjects, 
and  fall  below  their  opinion,  subdued  the  whole  of  England, 
except  Northumbria,  by  the  single  terror  of  his  name.  One 
Sihtric,  a  relation  of  that  Gothrun  who  is  mentioned  in  the 
history  of  Alfred,  presided  over  this  people,  a  barbarian  both 
by  race  and  disposition,  who,  though  he  ridiculed  the  power 
of  preceding  kings,  humbly  solicited  affinity  with  Athelstan, 
sending  messengers  expressly  for  the  purpose  ;  and  himself 
shortly  following  confirmed  the  proposals  of  the  ambassadors. 
In  consequence,  honoured  by  a  union  with  his  sister,  and 
by  various  presents,  he  laid  the  basis  of  a  perpetual  treaty. 
But,  as  I  have  before  observed,  dying  at  the  end  of  a  year, 
he  afforded  Athelstan  an  opportunity  for  uniting  Northum- 
bria, which  belonged  to  him  both  by  ancient  right  and  recent 
affinity,  to  his  sovereignty.     Anlaf,  the  son  of  Sihtric,  then 

A.D.  926]  ATHELSTAN.  133 

fled  into  Ireland,  and  his  brother  Guthferth  into  Scotland. 
Messengers  from  the  king  immediately  followed  to  Constan- 
tine,  king  of  the  Scots,  and  Eugenius,  king  of  the  Cumbrians, 
claiming  the  fugitive  under  a  threat  of  war.  The  barbarians 
had  no  idea  of  resistance,  but  without  delay  coming  to  a 
place  called  Dacor,  they  surrendered  themselves  and  their 
kingdoms  to  the  sovereign  of  England.  Out  of  regard  to 
this  treaty,  the  king  himself  stood  for  the  son  of  Constantine, 
who  was  ordered  to  be  baptized,  at  the  sacred  font.  Guth- 
ferth, however,  amid  the  preparations  for  the  journey,  escaped 
by  flight  with  one  Turfrid,  a  leader  of  the  opposite  party  ; 
and  afterwards  laying  siege  to  York,  where  he  could  succeed 
in  bringing  the  townsmen  to  surrender  neither  by  entreaties 
nor  by  threats,  he  departed.  Not  long  after,  being  both 
shut  up  in  a  castle,  they  eluded  the  vigilance  of  the  guards, 
and  escaped.  Turfrid,  losing  his  life  quickly  after  by  ship- 
wreck, became  a  prey  to  fishes.  Guthferth,  suffering  ex- 
tremely both  by  sea  and  land,  at  last  came  a  suppliant  to 
court.  Being  amicably  received  by  the  king,  and  sumptuous- 
ly entertained  for  four  days,  he  resought  his  ships  ;  an 
incorrigible  pirate,  and  accustomed  to  live  in  the  water  like 
a  fish.  In  the  meantime  Athelstan  levelled  with  the  ground 
the  castle  which  the  Danes  had  formerly  fortified  in  York, 
that  there  might  be  no  place  for  disloyalty  to  shelter  in  ; 
and  the  booty  which  had  been  found  there,  which  was  very 
considerable,  he  generously  divided,  man  by  man,  to  the 
whole  army.  For  he  had  prescribed  himself  this  rule  of 
conduct,  never  to  hoard  up  riches  ;  but  liberally  to  expend 
all  his  acquisition  either  on  monasteries  or  on  his  faithful 
followers.  On  these,  during  the  whole  of  his  life,  he  ex- 
pended his  paternal  treasures,  as  well  as  the  produce  of  his 
victories.  To  the  clergy  he  was  humble  and  affable  ;  to  the 
laity  mild  and  pleasant  ;  to  the  nobility  rather  reserved,  from 
respect  to  his  dignity  ;  to  the  lower  classes,  laying  aside  the 
stateliness  of  power,  he  was  kind  and  condescending.  He 
was,  as  we  have  heard,  of  becoming  stature,  thin  in  person, 
his  hair  flaxen,  as  I  have  seen  by  his  remains,  and  beautifully 
wreathed  with  golden  threads.  Extremely  beloved  by  his 
subjects  from  admiration  of  his  fortitude  and  humility,  he 
was  terrible  to  those  who  rebelled  against  him,  through  his 
invincible  courage.     He  compelled  the  rulers  of  the  northern 

134  WILLIAM   OF    JIALMESBURY.  [b.  ii.  c.  (5. 

Welsh,  that  is,  of  the  North  Britons,  to  meet  him  at  the  city 
of  Hereford,  and  after  some  opposition  to  surrender  to  his 
power.  So  that  he  actually  brought  to  pass  what  no  king 
before  him  had  even  presumed  to  think  of :  wliich  was,  that 
they  should  pay  annually  by  way  of  tribute,  twenty  pounds 
of  gold,  three  hundred  of  silver,  twenty-five  thousand  oxen, 
besides  as  many  dogs  as  he  might  choose,  which  from  their 
sagacious  scent  could  discover  the  retreats  and  hiding  places 
of  wild  beasts  ;  and  birds,  trained  to  make  prey  of  others  in 
the  air.  Departing  thence,  he  turned  towards  the  Western 
Britons,  who  are  called  the  Cornwallish,  because,  situated  in 
the  west  of  Britain,  they  are  opposite  to  the  extremity  of 
Gaul.*  Fiercely  attacking,  he  obliged  them  to  retreat  from 
Exeter,  which,  till  that  time,  they  had  inhabited  with  equal 
privileges  with  the  Angles,  fixing  the  boundary  of  their 
province  on  the  other  side  of  the  river  Tamar,  as  he  had  ap- 
pointed the  river  Wye  to  the  North  Britons.  This  city  then, 
which  he  had  cleansed  by  purging  it  of  its  contaminated 
race,  he  fortified  with  towers  and  surrounded  with  a  wall  of 
squared  stone.  And,  though  the  barren  and  unfruitful  soil 
can  scarcely  produce  indifferent  oats,  and  frequently  only  the 
empty  husk  without  the  grain,  yet,  owing  to  the  magnificence 
of  the  city,  the  opulence  of  its  inhabitants,  and  the  constant 
resort  of  strangers,  every  kind  of  merchandise  is  there  so 
abundant  that  nothing  is  wanting  which  can  conduce  to  hu- 
man comfort.  Many  noble  traces  of  him  are  to  be  seen  in 
that  city,  as  well  as  in  the  neighbouring  district,  which  will 
be  better  described  by  the  conversation  of  the  natives,  than 
by  my  narrative. 

On  this  account  all  Europe  resounded  with  his  praises, 
and  extolled  his  valour  to  the  skies  :  foreign  princes  with 
justice  esteemed  themselves  happy  if  they  could  purchase  his 
friendship  either  by  affinity  or  by  presents.  Harold  king  of 
Norway  sent  him  a  ship  with  golden  beak  and  a  purple  sail, 
furnished  within  with  a  compacted  fence  of  gilded  shields. 
The  names  of  the  persons  sent  with  it,  were  Helgrim  and 
Offrid  :  who,  being  received  with  princely  magnificence  in 
the  city  of  York,  were  amply  compensated,  by  rich  presents, 
for  the  labour  of  their  journey.  Henry  the  First,  for  there 
were  many  of  the  name,  the  son  of  Conrad,  king  of  the 
*  Cornu  Gallise,  a  fanciful  etymology. 

A.n-  923.]  ATHELSTAN.  135 

Teutoniaiis  and  emperor  of  the  Romans,  demanded  his  sister, 
as  I  have  before  related,  for  his  son  Otho  :  passing  over  so 
many  neighbouring  kings,  but  contemplating  from  a  distance 
Athelstan's  noble  descent,  and  greatness  of  mind.  So  com- 
pletely indeed  had  these  two  qualities  taken  up  their  abode 
with  him,  that  none  could  be  more  noble  or  illustrious  in 
descent ;  none  more  bold  or  prompt  in  disposition.  Maturely 
considering  that  he  had  four  sisters,  who  were  all  equally 
beautiful,  except  only  as  their  ages  made  a  difference,  he 
sent  two  to  the  emperor  at  liis  request ;  and  how  he  disposed 
of  them  in  marriage  has  already  been  related  :  Lewis  prince 
of  Aquitania,  a  descendant  of  Charles  the  Great,  obtained 
the  third  in  wedlock :  the  fourth,  in  whom  the  whole  essence 
of  beauty  had  centred,  which  the  others  only  possessed  in 
part,  was  demanded  from  her  brother  by  Hugh  king  of  the 
Franks.*  The  chief  of  this  embassy  was  Adulph,  son  of 
Baldwin  earl  of  Flanders  by  Ethelswitha  daughter  of  king 
Edward,  f  When  he  had  declared  the  request  of  the  suitor 
in  an  assembly  of  the  nobility  at  Abingdon,  he  produced  such 
liberal  presents  as  might  gratify  the  most  boundless  avarice  : 
perfumes  such  as  never  had  been  seen  in  England  before  : 
jewels,  but  more  especially  emeralds,  the  greenness  of  which, 
reflected  by  the  sun,  illumined  the  countenances  of  the 
bystanders  with  agreeable  light :  many  fleet  horses  with 
their  trappings,  and,  as  Virgil  says,  "  Champing  their  golden 
bits : "  an  alabaster  vase  so  exquisitely  chased,  that,  the  corn- 
fields really  seemed  to  wave,  the  vines  to  bud,  the  figures  of 
men  actually  to  move,  and  so  clear  and  polished,  that  it 
reflected  the  features  like  a  mirror ;  the  sword  of  Constantine 
the  Great,  on  which  the  name  of  its  original  possessor  was 
read  in  golden  letters  ;  on  the  pommel,  upon  thick  plates  of 
gold,  might  be  seen  fixed  an  iron  spike,  one  of  the  four 
which  the  Jewish  faction  prepared  for  the  crucifixion  of  our 
Lord  :  the  spear  of  Charles  the  Great,  which  whenever  that 
invincible  emperor  hurled  in  his  expeditions  against  the 
Saracens,  he  always  came  off  conqueror  ;  it  was  reported  to 
be  the  same,  which,  driven  into  the  side  of  our  Saviour  by 

•    *  Improperly  called  king  :  it  was  Hugh  the  Great,  father  of  Hugh 
Capet.     Malmesbury  was  probably  deceived  by  a  blunder  of  Ingulfs. 
t  This  is  a  mistake,  she  was  daughter  of  Alfred.     See  chap.  iv.  p.  117. 

136  WILLIAM   OF   :MALMESBURY.  [B.II.  c.6. 

the  hand  of  the  centurion,*  opened,  by  that  precious  wound, 
the  joys  of  paradise  to  wretched  mortals  :  the  banner  of  the 
most  blessed  martyr  Maurice,  chief  of  the  Theban  legion  ;  | 
with  which  the  same  king,  in  the  Spanish  war,  used  to  break 
through  the  battalions  of  the  enemy  however  fierce  and 
wedged  together,  and  put  them  to  flight :  a  diadem,  precious 
from  its  quantity  of  gold,  but  more  so  for  its  jewels,  the 
splendour  of  which  threw  the  sparks  of  Hght  so  strongly  on 
the  beholders,  that  the  more  stedfastly  any  person  en- 
deavoured to  gaze,  so  much  the  more  he  was  dazzled, 
and  compelled  to  avert  his  eyes ;  part  of  the  holy  and 
adorable  cross  enclosed  in  crystal ;  where  the  eye,  piercing 
through  the  substance  of  the  stone,  might  discern  the  colour 
and  size  of  the  wood ;  a  small  portion  of  the  crown  of  thorns, 
enclosed  in  a  similar  manner,  which,  in  derision  of  his 
government,  the  madness  of  the  soldiers  placed  on  Christ's 
sacred  head.  The  king,  delighted  with  such  great  and 
exquisite  presents,  made  an  equal  return  of  good  offices  ; 
and  gratified  the  soul  of  the  longing  suitor  by  a  union  with 
his  sister.  With  some  of  these  presents  he  enriched 
succeeding  kings  :  but  to  Malmesbury  he  gave  part  of  the 
cross  and  crown ;  by  the  support  of  which,  I  believe,  that 
place  even  now  flourishes,  though  it  has  suffered  so  many 
shipwrecks  of  its  liberty,  so  many  attacks  of  its  enemies. | 
In  this  place  he  ordered  Elwin  and  Ethelwin,  the  sons  of  his 
uncle  Ethelward,  whom  he  had  lost  in  the  battle  against 
Anlaf,  to  be  honourably  buried,  expressing  his  design  of 
resting  here  himself :  of  which  battle  it  is  now  proper  time 
to  give  the  account  of  that  poet,  from  whom  I  have  taken  all 
these  transactions. 

His  subjects  governing  with  justest  sway, 
Tyrants  o'eraw'd,  twelve  years  had  pass'd  away, 

•  The  legend  of  St.  Longinus  makes  the  centurion  mentioned  in  the 
Gospel,  the  person  who  pierced  the  side  of  our  Lord  ;  with  many  other 
fabulous  additions.     See  Jac.  a  Voragine,  Legenda  Sanctorum. 

+  The  Theban  legion  refusing,  in  the  Diocletian  persecution,  to  bring  the 
Christians  to  execution,  were  ordered  to  be  decimated  ;  and  on  their 
persisting  in  the  same  resolution  at  the  instigation  of  Ma\irice,  the  com- 
mander of  the  legion,  they  were,  together  with  him,  put  to  cruel  deaths. 
V.  Acta  Sanctor.  22  Sept. 

X  He  has,  apparently,  the  oppressions  of  bishop  Roger  constantly  before 

1D937.J  DEATH   OF   ELFRED.  137 

When  Europe's  noxious  pestilence  stalk'd  forth, 
And  poured  the  barbarous  legions  from  the  north. 
The  pirate  Anlaf  now  the  briny  surge 
Forsakes,  while  deeds  of  desperation  urge. 
Her  king  consenting,  Scotia's  land  receives 
The  frantic  madman,  and  his  host  of  thieves  : 
Now  flush 'd  with  insolence  they  shout  and  boast. 
And  drive  the  harmless  natives  from  the  coast. 
Thus,  while  the  king,  secure  in  youthful  pride, 
Bade  the  soft  hours  in  gentle  pleasures  glide, 
Though  erst  he  stemmed  the  battle's  furious  tide, 
With  ceaseless  plunder  sped  the  daring  horde, 
And  wasted  districts  with  their  fire  and  sword. 
The  verdant  crops  lay  withering  on  the  fields 
The  glebe  no  promise  to  the  rustic  yields. 
Immense  the  numbers  of  barbarian  force, 
Countless  the  squadrons  both  of  foot  and  horse. 
At  length  fame's  rueful  moan  alarmed  the  king, 
And  bade  him  shun  this  ignominious  sting. 
That  arms  like  his  to  ruffian  bands  should  bend  : 
'Tis  done  :  delays  and  hesitations  end. 
High  in  the  air  the  threatening  banners  fly, 
And  call  his  eager  troops  to  victory. 
His  hardy  force,  a  hundred  thousand  strong 
Whom  standards  hasten  to  the  fight  along. 
The  martial  clamour  scares  the  plund'ring  band, 
And  drives  them  bootless  tow'rds  their  native  land. 
The  vulgar  mass  a  dreadful  carnage  share, 
And  shed  contagion  on  the  ambient  air, 
While  Anlaf,  only,  out  of  all  the  crew 
Escapes  the  meed  of  death,  so  justly  due, 
Reserved  by  fortune's  favor,  once  again 
When  Athelstan  was  dead,  to  claim  our  strain. 

This  place  seems  to  require  that  I  should  relate  the  death 
of  Elfred  in  the  words  of  the  king,  for  which  I  before 
pledged  the  faith  of  my  narrative.  For  as  he  had  commanded 
the  bodies  of  his  relations  to  be  conveyed  to  Malmesbury, 
and  interred  at  the  head  of  the  sepulchre  of  St.  Aldhelm  ; 
he  honoured  the  place  afterwards  to  such  a  degree,  that  he 
esteemed  none  more  desirable  or  more  holy.  Bestowing 
many  large  estates  upon  it,  he  confirmed  them  by  charters, 
in  one  of  which,  after  the  donation,  he  adds  :  "  Be  it  known 
to  the  sages  of  our  kingdom,  that  I  have  not  unjustly  seized 
the  lands  aforesaid,  or  dedicated  plunder  to  God  ;  but  that  I 
have  received  them,  as  the  English  nobility,  and  even  John, 
the  pope   of  the   church  of  Rome  himself,   have  judged 

138  WILLIAM   OP   MALMESBURT.  [b.  u.  c.  6. 

fitting  on  the  death  of  Elfred.  He  was  the  jealous  rival  both 
of  my  happiness  and  life,  and  consented  to  the  wickedness  of 
my  enemies,  who,  on  my  father's  decease,  had  not  God  in  his 
mercy  delivered  me,  wished  to  put  out  my  eyes  in  the  city 
of  Winchester :  wherefore,  on  the  discovery  of  their 
infernal  contrivances,  he  was  sent  to  the  church  of  Rome  to 
defend  himself  by  oath  before  pope  John.  This  he  did  at 
the  altar  of  St.  Peter ;  but  at  the  very  instant  he  had  sworn, 
he  fell  down  before  it,  and  was  carried  by  his  servants  to  the 
English  School,  where  he  died  the  third  night  after.  The 
pope  immediately  sent  to  consult  with  us,  whether  his  body 
should  be  placed  among  other  Christians.  On  receiving  this 
account  the  nobility  of  our  kingdom,  with  the  whole  body  of 
his  relations,  humbly  entreated  that  we  would  grant  our 
permission  for  his  remains  to  be  buried  with  other 
Christians.  Consenting,  therefore,  to  their  urgent  request, 
we  sent  back  our  compliance  to  Rome,  and  with  the  pope's 
permission  he  was  buried,  though  unworthy,  with  other 
Christians.  In  consequence  all  his  property  of  every 
description  was  adjudged  to  be  mine.  Moreover,  we  have 
noted  this  in  writing,  that,  so  long  as  Christianity  reigns,  it 
may  never  be  abrogated,  whence  the  aforesaid  land,  which  I 
have  given  to  God  and  St.  Peter,  Avas  granted  me  ;  nor  do  I 
know  any  thing  more  just,  than  that  I  should  bestow  this 
gift  on  God  and  St.  Peter,  who  caused  my  rival  to  fall  in 
the  sight  of  all  persons,  and  conferred  on  me  a  prosperous 

In  these  words  of  the  king,  we  may  equally  venerate  his 
wisdom,  and  his  piety  in  sacred  matters  :  his  wisdom,  that 
so  young  a  man  should  perceive  that  a  sacrifice  obtained  by 
rapine  could  not  be  acceptable  to  God  :  his  piety  in  so  grate- 
fully making  a  return  to  God,  out  of  a  benefit  conferred  on 
him  by  divine  vengeance.  Moreover,  it  may  be  necessary  to 
observe,  that  at  that  time  the  church  of  St.  Peter  was  the 
chief  of  the  monastery,  which  now  is  deemed  second  only  : 
the  church  of  St.  Mary,  which  the  monks  at  present  fre- 
quent, was  built  afterwards  in  the  time  of  king  Edgar,  under 
abbat  Elfric.  Thus  far  relating  to  the  king  I  have  written 
from  authentic  testimony  :  that  which  follows  I  have  learned 
more  from  old  ballads,  popular  through  succeeding  times, 
than  from  books   written  expressly  for  the  information  of 

A.D.926.J  BIRTH   OF    ATBELSTAN.  139 

posterity.  I  have  subjoined  them,  not  to  defend  their 
veracity,  but  to  put  my  reader  in  possession  of  all  I  know. 
First,  then,  to  the  relation  of  his  birth. 

There  was  in  a  certain  village,  a  shepherd's  daughter,  a 
girl  of  exquisite  beauty,  who  gained  through  the  elegance  of 
her  person  what  her  birth  could  never  have  bestowed.  In  a 
vision  she  beheld  a  prodigy :  the  moon  shone  from  her 
womb,  and  all  England  was  illuminated  by  the  light.  When 
she  sportively  related  this  to  her  companions  in  the  morning, 
it  was  not  so  lightly  received,  but  immediately  reached  the 
ears  of  the  woman  who  had  nursed  the  sons  of  the  king. 
Deliberating  on  this  matter,  she  took  her  home  and  adopted 
her  as  a  daughter,  bringing  up  this  young  maiden  with  cost- 
lier attire,  more  delicate  food,  and  more  elegant  demeanour. 
Soon  after,  Edward,  the  sou  of  king  Alfred,  travelling 
through  the  village,  stopped  at  the  house  which  had  been  the 
scene  of  his  infantine  education.  Indeed,  he  thought  it  would 
be  a  blemish  on  his  reputation  to  omit  paying  his  salutations 
to  his  nurse.  He  became  deeply  enamoured  of  the  young 
woman  from  the  first  moment  he  saw  her,  and  passed  the 
night  with  her.  In  consequence  of  this  single  intercourse, 
she  brought  forth  her  son  Athelstan,  and  so  realized  her 
dream.  For  at  the  expiration  of  his  childish  years,  as  he 
approached  manhood,  he  gave  proof  by  many  actions  what 
just  expectations  of  noble  qualities  might  be  entertained  of 
him.  King  Edward,  therefore,  died,  and  was  shortly 
followed  by  his  legitimate  son  Ethelward.  All  hopes  now 
centred  in  Athelstan  :  Elfred  alone,  a  man  of  uncommon 
insolence,  disdaining  to  be  governed  by  a  sovereign  whom  he 
had  not  voluntarily  chosen,  secretly  opposed  with  his  party  to 
the  very  utmost.  But  he  being  detected  and  punished,  as 
the  king  has  before  related,  there  were  some  who  even 
accused  Edwin,  the  king's  brother,  of  treachery.  Base  and 
dreadful  crime  was  it  thus  to  embroil  fraternal  affection  by 
sinister  constructions.  Edwin,  though  imploring,  both 
personally  and  by  messengers,  the  confidence  of  his  brother, 
and  though  invalidating  the  accusation  by  an  oath,  was 
nevertheless  driven  into  exile.  So  far,  indeed,  did  tlie  dark 
suggestions  of  some  persons  prevail  on  a  mind  distracted 
with  various  cares,  that,  forgetful  of  a  brother's  love,  he  ex- 
pelled the  youth,  an  object  of  pity  even  to  strangers.     The 

140  WILLIAM   OF    MALMESBURY.  [b.  n.  c.  9. 

mode  adopted  too  was  cruel  in  the  extreme  :  he  was  com- 
pelled to  go  on  board  a  vessel,  with  a  single  attendant,  with- 
out a  rower,  without  even  an  oar,  and  the  bark  crazy  with 
age.  Fortune  laboured  for  a  long  time  to  restore  the  innocent 
youth  to  land,  but  when  at  length  he  was  far  out  at  sea,  and 
sails  could  not  endure  the  violence  of  the  wind,  the  young 
man,  delicate,  and  weary  of  life  under  such  circumstances, 
put  an  end  to  his  existence  by  a  voluntary  plunge  into  the 
waters.  The  attendant  wisely  determining  to  prolong  his 
life,  sometimes  by  shunning  the  hostile  waves,  and  some- 
times by  urging  the  boat  forward  with  his  feet,  brought  his 
master's  body  to  land,  in  the  narrow  sea  which  flows  between 
Wissant  and  Dover.  Athelstan,  when  liis  anger  cooled,  and 
his  mind  became  calm,  shuddered  at  the  deed,  and  submitting 
to  a  seven  years'  penance,  inflicted  severe  vengeance  on 
the  accuser  of  his  brother  :  he  was  the  king's  cup-bearer, 
and  on  this  account  had  opportunity  of  enforcing  his  insinu- 
ations. It  so  happened  on  a  festive  day,  as  he  was  serving 
wine,  that  slipping  with  one  foot  in  the  midst  of  the  chamber, 
he  recovered  himself  with  the  other.  On  this  occasion,  he 
made  use  of  an  expression  which  proved  his  destruction  : 
"  Thus  brother,"  said  he,  "  assists  brother."  The  king  on 
hearing  this,  ordered  the  faithless  wretch  to  be  put  to  death, 
loudly  reproaching  him  with  the  loss  of  that  assistance  he 
might  have  had  from  his  brother,  were  he  alive,  and  bewail- 
ing his  death. 

The  circumstances  of  Edwin's  death,  though  extremely 
probable,  I  the  less  venture  to  affirm  for  truth,  on  account  of 
the  extraordinary  affection  he  manifested  towards  the  rest  of 
his  brothers ;  for,  as  his  father  had  left  them  very  young,  he 
cherished  them  whilst  children  with  much  kindness,  and, 
when  grown  up,  made  them  partakers  of  his  kingdom ;  it  is 
before  related  to  what  dignity  he  exalted  such  of  his  sisters 
as  his  father  had  left  unmarried  and  unprovided  for.  Com- 
pleting his  earthly  course,  and  that  a  short  one,  Athelstan 
died  at  Gloucester.  His  noble  remains  were  conveyed  to 
Malmesbury  and  buried  under  the  altar.  Many  gifts,  both 
in  gold  and  silver,  as  weU  as  relics  of  saints  purchased 
abroad  in  Brittany,  were  carried  before  the  body :  for, 
in  such  things,  admonished,  as  they  say,  in  a  dream,  he 
expended  the  treasures  which  his   father   had   long   since 

A.D.  940-944.]  KING   EDMUND.  141 

amassed,  and  had  left  untouched.  His  years,  though  few, 
were  full  of  glory. 

CHAP.  vn. 

Of  kings  Edmund,  Edred,  and  Edwy.     [a.d.  940 — 955.] 

In  the  year  of  our  Lord's  incarnation  940,  Edmund  the  bro- 
ther of  Athelstan,  a  youth  of  about  eighteen,  received  and 
held  the  government  for  six  years  and  a  half.  In  his  time 
the  Northumbrians,  meditating  a  renewal  of  hostilities,  vio- 
lated the  treaty  which  they  had  made  with  Athelstan,  and 
created  Anlaf,  whom  they  had  recalled  from  Ireland,  their 
king.  Edmund,  who  thought  it  disgraceful  not  to  complete 
his  brother's  victorious  course,  led  his  troops  against  the  de- 
linquents ;  who  presently  retreating,  he  subjugated  all  the 
cities  on  this  side  the  river  Humber.  Anlaf,  with  a  certain 
prince,  Reginald,*  the  son  of  that  Gurmund  of  whom  we  have 
spoken  in  the  history  of  Alfred,  sounding  the  disposition  of 
the  king,  offered  to  surrender  himself,  proffering  his  conver- 
sion to  Christianity  as  a  pledge  of  his  fidelity,  and  receiving 
baptism.  His  savage  nature,  however,  did  not  let  liim  re- 
main long  in  this  resolution,  for  he  violated  his  oath,  and 
irritated  his  lord.  In  consequence  of  which,  the  following 
year  he  suffered  for  his  crimes,  being  doomed  to  perpetual 
exile.  The  province  wliich  is  called  Cumberland  Edmund 
assigned  to  Malcolm,  king  of  the  Scots,  under  fealty  of  an 

Among  the  many  donations  wliich  the  king  conferred  on 
different  churches,  he  exalted  that  of  Glastonbury,  through 
his  singular  affection  towards  it,  Avith  great  estates  and  ho- 
nours ;  and  granted  it  a  charter  in  these  words : 

"  Li  the  name  of  our  Lord  Jesus  Christ,  I  Edmund,  king 
of  the  Angles,  and  governor  and  ruler  of  the  other  surround- 
ing nations,  with  the  advice  and  consent  of  my  nobility,  for 
the  hope  of  eternal  retribution,  and  remission  of  my  trans- 
gressions, do  grant  to  the  church  of  the  holy  mother  of  God, 
Mary  of  Glastonbury,  and  the  venerable  jDunstan,  whom  I 
have  there  constituted  abbat,  the  franchise  and  jurisdiction, 

*  Reginald  was  not  the  son  of  Gurmund,  but  of  Guthferth,  who  was 
driven  out  of  Northumberland  by  Athelsta/n.  See  Saxon  Chronicle,  a.d. 
927-- .944. 

142  WILLIAM   OF   MALMESBURT.  [b.  ii.  c.  7. 

rights,  customs,  and  all  the  forfeitures  of  all  their  posses- 
sions ;  that  is  to  say,*  burhgeritha,  and  hundred-setena. 
athas  and  ordelas,  and  infangenetheofas,  hamsocne,  and  fri- 
debrice,  and  forestel  and  toll,  and  team,  tlu'oughout  my  king- 
dom, and  their  lands  shall  be  free  to  them,  and  released  from 
all  exactions,  as  my  own  are.  But  more  especially  shall  the 
town  of  Glastonbury,  in  which  is  situated  that  most  ancient 
church  of  the  holy  mother  of  God,  together  with  its  bounds, 
be  more  free  than  other  places.  The  abbat  of  this  place, 
alone,  shall  have  power,  as  well  in  causes  known  as  unknown ; 
in  small  and  in  great ;  and  even  in  those  which  are  above, 
and  under  the  earth  ;  on  dry  land,  and  in  the  water ;  in 
woods  and  in  plains  ;  and  he  shall  have  the  same  authority 
of  punishing  or  remitting  the  crimes  of  delinquents  perpetra- 
ted within  it,  as  my  court  has  ;  in  the  same  manner  as  my 
predecessors  have  granted  and  confirmed  by  charter  ;  to  wit, 
Edward  my  father,  and  Elfred  his  father,  and  Kentwin,  Ina, 
and  Cuthred,  and  many  others,  who  more  peculiarly  honoured 
and  esteemed  that  noble  place.  And  that  any  one,  either 
bishop,  or  duke,f  or  prince,  or  any  of  their  servants,  should 
dai-e  to  enter  it  for  the  purpose  of  holding  courts,  or  distrain- 
ing, or  doing  any  thing  contrary  to  the  will  of  the  ser- 
vants of  God  there,  I  inhibit  under  God's  curse.  Whosoever 
therefore  shall  benevolently  augment  my  donation,  may  his 
life  be  prosperous  in  this  present  world  ;  long  may  he  enjoy 
his  happiness  :  but  whosoever  shall  presume  to  invade  it 
through  his  own  rashness,  let  him  know  for  certain  that  he 
shall  be  compelled  with  fear  and  trembling  to  give  account 
before  the  tribunal  of  a  rigorous  judge,  unless  he  shall  first 
atone  for  his  offence  by  proper  satisfaction." 

The  aforesaid  donation  was  granted  in  the  year  of  our 

*  The  exact  meaning  of  some  of  these  terms  is  not  easUy  attainable,  but 
they  are  generally  understood  to  imply — jurisdiction  over  the  burgh,  or 
town — hundred  court — oaths  and  ordeals — thieves  taken  within  the  juris- 
diction— housebreakers — breach  of  peace — offences  committed  on  the  high- 
ways, or  forestalling — tolls — warranty,  or  a  right  of  reclaiming  villains  who 
had  absconded.  The  charter  therefore  conveys  a  right  to  hold  various 
courts,  and  consequently  to  try,  and  receive  all  mulcts  arising  from  the 
several  offences  enumerated,  which  being  generally  redeemable  by  fine, 
produced  considerable  sums ;  besides,  what  was  perhaps  of  more  import- 
ance, exemption  from  the  vexations  of  the  king's  officers. 

t  Duke  is  often  used  in  charters,  &c.  as  synonymous  with  earl. 

A.D.  946]  EDMUND   KILLED.  143 

Lord  Jesus  Christ's  incarnation  944,  in  the  first  of  the  indic- 
tion,  and  was  written  in  letters  of  gold  in  the  book  of  the 
Gospels,  which  he  presented  to  the  same  church  elegantly- 
adorned.  Such  great  and  prosperous  successeSy  however, 
were  obscured  by  a  melancholy  death.  A  certain  robber 
named  Leofa,  whom  he  had  banished  for  his  crimes,  returning 
after  six  years'  absence  totally  unexpected,  was  sitting,  on 
the  feast  of  St.  Augustine,  the  apostle  of  the  English,  and 
first  archbishop  of  Canterbury,  among  the  royal  guests  at 
Puckle-church,*  for  on  this  day  the  English  were  wont  to  re- 
gale in  commemoration  of  their  first  preacher  ;  by  chance 
too,  he  was  placed  near  a  nobleman  whom  the  king  had  con- 
descended to  make  his  guest.  This,  while  the  others  were 
eagerly  carousing,  was  perceived  by  the  king  alone  ;  when, 
hurried  with  indignation  and  impelled  by  fate,  he  leaped 
from  the  table,  caught  the  robber  by  the  hair,  and  dragged 
him  to  the  floor  ;  but  he  secretly  drawing  a  dagger  from  its 
sheath  plunged  it  with  all  his  force  into  the  breast  of  the  king 
as  he  lay  upon  him.  Dying  of  the  wound,  he  gave  rise  over 
the  whole  kingdom  to  many  fictions  concerning  his  decease. 
The  robber  was  shortly  torn  limb  from  limb  by  the  attend- 
ants who  rushed  in,  though  he  wounded  some  of  them  ere 
they  could  accomplish  their  purpose.  St.  Dunstan,  at  that 
time  abbat  of  Glastonbury,  had  foreseen  his  ignoble  end, 
being  fully  persuaded  of  it  from  the  gesticulations  and  inso- 
lent mockery  of  a  devil  dancing  before  him.  Wherefore, 
hastening  to  court  at  full  speed,  he  received  intelligence  of 
the  transaction  on  the  road.  By  common  consent  then  it 
was  determined,  that  his  body  should  be  brought  to  Glaston- 
bury and  there  magnificently  buried  in  the  northern  part  of 
the  tower.  That  such  had  been  his  intention,  through  liis 
singular  regard  for  the  abbat,  was  evident  from  particular 
circumstances.  The  village  also  where  he  was  murdered 
was  made  an  offering  for  the  dead,  that  the  spot  which  had 
witnessed  his  fall  might  ever  after  minister  aid  to  his  soul. 

In  his  fourth  year,  that  is,  in  the  year  of  our  Lord  944, 
William,  the  son  of  Rollo,  duke  of  Normandy,  was  treacher- 
ously killed  in  France,  which  old  writers  relate  as  having 
been  done  with  some  degree  of  justice.  Rinulph,  one  of  the 
Norman  nobility,  owing  William  a  grudge  from  some  un- 
*  In  Gloucestershire. 

144  WILLIAM  OF   MALMESBUEY.  [b.  ii.  c  7. 

known  cause,  harassed  him  with  perpetual  aggressions.  His 
son,  Anschetil,  who  served  under  the  earl,  to  gratify  his  lord 
durst  offer  violence  to  nature  for  taking  his  father  in  bat- 
tle :  he  delivered  him  into  the  power  of  the  earl,  relying  on 
the  most  solemn  oath,  that  he  should  suffer  nothing  beyond 
imprisonment.  As  wickedness,  however,  constantly  dis- 
covers pretences  for  crime,  the  earl,  shortly  after  feigning  an 
excuse,  sends  Anschetil  to  Pavia  bearing  a  letter  to  the 
duke  of  Italy,  the  purport  of  which  was  his  own  destruction. 
Completing  his  journey,  he  was  received,  on  his  entrance 
into  the  city,  in  the  most  respectful  manner  ;  and  delivering 
the  letter,  the  duke,  astonished  at  the  treachery,  shuddered, 
that  a  warrior  of  such  singular  address  should  be  ordered  to 
be  despatched.  But  as  he  would  not  oppose  the  request  of 
so  renowned  a  nobleman,  he  laid  an  ambush  of  a  thousand 
horsemen,  as  it  is  said,  for  Anschetil  when  he  left  the  city. 
For  a  long  time,  with  his  companions  whom  he  had  selected 
out  of  all  Normandy,  he  resisted  their  attack  ;  but  at  last  he 
fell  nobly,  compensating  his  own  death  by  slaying  many  of 
the  enemy.  The  only  survivor  on  either  side  was  Balso,  a 
Norman,  a  man  of  small  size,  but  of  incredible  courage  ;  al- 
though some  say  that  he  was  ironically  called  short.  Tliis 
man,  I  say,  alone  hovered  round  the  city,  and  by  his  single 
sword  terrified  the  townspeople  as  long  as  he  thought  pro- 
per. No  person  will  deem  this  incredible,  who  considers 
what  efforts  the  desperation  of  a  courageous  man  will  pro- 
duce, and  how  little  military  valour  the  people  of  that  region 
possess.  Returning  thence  to  his  own  country,  he  laid  his 
complaint  of  the  perfidy  of  his  lord  before  the  king  of  France. 
Fame  reported  too,  that  Rinulph,  in  addition  to  his  chains, 
had  had  his  eyes  put  out.  In  consequence  the  earl  being 
cited  to  his  trial  at  Paris,  was  met,  under  the  pretence  of  a 
conference,  as  they  assert,  and  killed  by  Balso  ;  thus  making 
atonement  for  his  own  perfidy,  and  satisfying  the  rage  of  his 
antagonist  in  the  midst  of  the  river  Seine.  His  death  was 
the  source  of  long  discord  between  the  French  and  Normans, 
till  by  the  exertions  of  Richard  his  son  it  had  a  termination 
worthy  such  a  personage.  A  truer  history*  indeed  relates, 
that  being  at  enmity  with  Ernulph,  earl  of  Flanders,  he  had 
possessedhimself  01  one  of  his  castles,  and  that  being  invited 
*  See  Will.  Gemeticensis,  lib.  iii.  c.  11. 

A.D.  946— 955.]  EDRED EDWY.  145 

out  by  him  to  a  conference,  on  a  pretended  design  of  making 
a  truce,  he  was  killed  by  Balso,  as  thej  were  conversing  in 
a  ship  :  that  a  key  was  found  at  his  girdle,  Avhich  being  ap- 
plied to  the  lock  of  his  private  cabinet,  discovered  certain 
monastic  habiliments;*  for  he  ever  designed,  even  amid  his 
warlike  pursuits,  one  day  to  become  a  monk  at  Jumieges  ; 
which  place,  deserted  from  the  time  of  Hasten,  he  cleared 
of  the  overspreading  thorns,  and  with  princely  magnificence 
exalted  to  its  present  state. 

In  the  year  of  our  Lord  946,  Edred,  Edward's  third  son, 
assuming  the  government,  reigned  nine  years  and  a  half. 
He  gave  proof  that  he  had  not  degenerated  in  greatness  of 
soul  from  his  father  and  his  brothers  ;  for  he  nearly  extermi- 
nated the  Northumbrians  and  the  Scots,  laying  waste  the 
whole  province  with  sword  and  famine,  because,  having  with 
little  difficulty  compelled  them  to  swear  fidelity  to  him,  they 
broke  their  oath,  and  made  Iricius  their  king.  He  for  a  long 
time  kept  Wulstan,  archbishop  of  York,  Avho,  it  was  said, 
connived  at  the  revolt  of  his  countrymen,  in  chains,  but 
afterwards,  out  of  respect  to  his  ecclesiastical  dignity,  re- 
leased and  pardoned  him.  In  the  meantime,  the  king  him- 
self, prostrate  at  the  feet  of  the  saints,  devoted  his  life  to 
God  and  to  Dunstan,  by  whose  admonition  he  endured  with 
patience  his  frequent  bodily  pains,!  prolonged  his  prayers, 
and  made  his  palace  altogetlier  the  school  of  virtue.  He 
died  accompanied  with  the  utmost  grief  of  men,  but  joy  of 
angels  ;  for  Dunstan,  learning  by  a  messenger  that  he  was 
sick,  while  urging  his  horse  in  order  to  see  him,  heard  a 
voice  thundering  over  his  head,  "  Now  king  Edred  sleeps  in 
the  Lord."     He  lies  buried  in  the  cathedral  at  Winchester. 

In  the  year  of  our  Lord  955,  Edwy,  son  of  Edmund,  the 
brother  of  Athelstan  the  former  king,  taking  possession  of 
the  kingdom,  retained  it  four  years  :  a  wanton  youth,  who 
abused  the  beauty  of  his  person  in  illicit  intercourse.  Fi- 
nally, taking  a  woman  nearly  related  to  him  as  his  wife, 
he  doated  on  her  beauty,  and  despised  the  advice  of  his  coun- 

*  These  were  a  woollen  shirt  and  cowl.     Will.  Gemet.  lib.  iii.  c.  12. 

t  Edred  is  described  by  Bridferth  as  being  constantly  oppressed  with 
sickness  ;  and  of  so  weak  a  digestion,  as  to  be  unable  to  swallow  more  than 
the  juices  of  the  food  he  had  masticated,  to  the  great  annoyance  of  hw 
guests.     Vita  Dunstani,  Act.  Sanct.  1 9  Maii. 


146  WILLIAM   OF    MALMESBURT.  [b.  ir  c.  7. 

sellers.  On  the  verj  day  he  had  been  consecrated  king,  in 
full  assembly  of  the  nobility,  when  deliberating  on  affairs  of 
importance  and  essential  to  the  state,  he  burst  suddenly  from 
amongst  them,  darted  wantonly  into  his  chamber,  and  rioted 
in  the  embraces  of  the  harlot.  All  were  indignant  of  the 
shameless  deed,  and  murmured  among  themselves.  Dunstan 
alone,  with  that  firmness  which  his  name  implies,*  regardless 
of  the  royal  indignation,  violently  dragged  the  lascivious  boy 
from  the  chamber,  and  on  the  archbishop's  compelling  him 
to  repudiate  the  strumpet, f  made  him  his  enemy  for  ever. 
Soon  after,  upheld  by  most  contemptible  supporters,  he 
afflicted  with  undeserved  calamities  all  the  members  of  the 
monastic  order  throughout  England, — who  were  first  de- 
spoiled of  their  property,  and  then  driven  into  exile.  He 
drove  Dunstan  himself,  the  chief  of  monks,  into  Flanders. 
At  that  time  the  face  of  monachism  was  sad  and  pitiable. 
Even  the  monastery  of  Malmesbury,  which  had  been  inha- 
bited by  monks  for  more  than  two  hundred  and  seventy 
years,  he  made  a  sty  for  secular  canons.  But  thou,  O 
Lord  Jesus,  our  creator  and  redeemer,  gracious  disposer,  art 
abundantly  able  to  remedy  our  defects  by  means  of  those  ir- 
regular and  vagabond  men.  Thou  didst  bring  to  light  thy 
treasure,  hidden  for  so  many  years — I  mean  the  body  of  St. 
Aldhelm,  which  they  took  up  and  placed  in  a  shrine.  The 
royal  generosity  increased  the  fame  of  the  canons  ;  for 
the  king  bestowed  on  the  saint  an  estate,  very  convenient 
both  from  its  size  and  vicinity.  But  my  recollection  shud- 
ders even  at  this  time,  to  think  how  cruel  he  was  to  other 
monasteries,  equally  on  account  of  the  giddiness  of  youth, 
and  the  pernicious  counsel  of  his  concubine,  who  was  per- 
petually poisoning  his  uninformed  mind.  But  let  his  soul, 
long  since  placed  in  rest  by  the  interposition  of  Dunstan, f 

*  A  quibble  on  his  name,  as  compounded  of  "  hill  "  and  '*  stone." 
t  Much  variation  prevails  among  the  earliest  Avriters  concerning  Elfgiva. 
Bridferth  (Act.  Sanct.  19  Mali)  says,  there  were  two  women,  mother  and 
daughter,  familiar  with  Edwy.  A  contemporary  of  Bridferth  (MS.  Cott. 
Nero,  E.  I.)  asserts,  that  he  was  married,  but  fell  in  love  with,  and  carried 
off,  another  woman.  A  MS.  Saxon  Chron.  (Cott.  Tib.  b.  iv,)  says,  they 
were  separated,  as  being  of  kin.  Osberne,  Edmer,  and  Malmesbury,  in  his 
Life  of  Dunstan  (MS.),  all  repeat  the  story  of  the  two  women. 

X  Dunstan,  learning  that  he  was  dead,  and  that  the  devils  were  about  to 
carry  off  his  soul  in  triumph  by  his  prayers  obtained  his  release.    A  curious 

A.D.  959— 975.]  OF  KING  EDGAJ?.  147 

pardon  my  grief :  grief,  I  say,  compels  me  to  condemn  him, 
"  because  private  advantage  is  not  to  be  preferred  to  public 
loss,  but  rather  pubhc  loss  should  outweigh  private  advan- 
tage." He  paid  the  penalty  of  his  rash  attempt  even  in  this 
life,  being  despoiled  of  the  greatest  part  of  his  kingdom  ;* 
shocked  with  which  calamity,  he  died,  and  was  buried  in  the 
new  minster  at  Winchester. 

CHAP.  vni. 

Of  king  Edgar,  son  of  king  Edmund,     [a.d.  959 — 975.] 

In  the  year  of  our  Lord's  incarnation  959,  Edgar,  the  honour 
and  delight  of  the  English,  the  son  of  Edmund,  the  brother 
of  Edwy,  a  youth  of  sixteen  years  old,  assuming  the  govern- 
ment, held  it  for  about  a  similar  period.  The  transactions  of 
his  reign  are  celebrated  with  peculiar  splendour  even  in  our 
times.  The  Divine  love,  which  he  sedulously  procured  by 
his  devotion  and  energy  of  counsel,  shone  propitious  on  his 
years.  It  is  commonly  reported,  that  at  his  birth  Dunstan 
heard  an  angelic  voice,  saying,  "  Peace  to  England  so  long 
as  this  child  shall  reign,  and  our  Dunstan  survives."  The 
succession  of  events  was  in  unison  with  the  heavenly  oracle ; 
so  much  while  he  lived  did  ecclesiastical  glory  flourish,  and 
martial  clamour  decay.  Scarcely  does  a  year  elapse  in  the 
chronicles,  in  which  he  did  not  perform  something  great  and 
advantageous  to  his  country  ;  in  which  he  did  not  build 
some  new  monastery.  He  experienced  no  internal  treachery, 
no  foreign  attack.  Kinad,  king  of  the  Scots,  Malcolm,  of  the 
Cambrians,  that  prince  of  pirates,  Maccus,  all  the  Welsh 
kings,  whose  names  were  Dufnal,  Giferth,  Huval,  Jacob, 
Judethil,  being  summoned  to  his  court,  were  bound  to  him 
by  one,  and  that  a  lasting  oath  ;  so  that  meeting  him  at 
Chester,  he  exhibited  them  on  the  river  Dee  in  triumphal 
ceremony.  For  putting  them  all  on  board  the  same  vessels 
he  compelled  them  to  row  him  as  he  sat  at  the  prow  :  thus 
displaying  his  regal  magnificence,  who  held  so  many  kings 
in  subjection.  Indeed,  he  is  reported  to  have  said,  that 
henceforward  his  successors  might  truly  boast  of  being  kings 

colloquy  between  the  abbat  and  the  devils  on  the  subject,  may  be  found  ia 
Osberne's  Life  of  Dunstan,  Anglia  Sacra,  ii.  108. 

*  The  Mercians  had  revolted,  and  chosen  Edgrj  king. 

148  AVILLIAM   OF    MALMESBURY.  [b.  ii.  c.  8. 

of  England,  since  they  would  enjoy  so  singular  an  honour. 
Hence  his  fame  being  noised  abroad,  foreigners,  Saxons, 
Flemings,  and  even  Danes,  frequently  sailed  hither,  and 
were  on  terms  of  intimacy  with  Edgar,  though  their  arrival 
was  highly  prejudicial  to  the  natives  :  for  from  the  Saxons 
they  learned  an  untameable  ferocity  of  mind  ;  from  the  Flem- 
ings an  unmanly  delicacy  of  body  ;  and  from  the  Danes 
drunkenness  ;  though  they  were  before  free  from  such  pro- 
pensities, and  disposed  to  observe  their  own  customs  with 
native  simplicity  rather  than  admire  those  of  others.  For 
this  history  justly  and  deservedly  blames  him  ;  for  the  other 
imputations  which  I  shall  mention  hereafter  have  rather  been 
cast  on  him  by  ballads. 

At  this  time  the  light  of  holy  men  was  so  resplendent  in  Eng- 
land, that  you  would  believe  the  very  stars  from  heaven  smiled 
upon  it.  Among  these  was  Dunstan,  whom  I  have  mentioned 
so  frequently,  first,  abbat  of  Glastonbury  ;  next,  bishop  of 
Worcester  ;  and  lastly,  archbishop  of  Canterbury  :  of  great 
power  in  earthly  matters,  in  high  favour  with  God  ;  in  the 
one  representing  Martha,  in  the  other  Mary.  Next  to  king 
Alfred,  he  was  the  most  extraordinary  patron  of  the  liberal 
arts  throughout  the  whole  island  ;  the  munificent  restorer  of 
monasteries  ;  terrilde  were  his  denunciations  against  trans- 
gressing kings  and  princes  ;  kind  was  his  support  of  the 
middling  and  poorer  classes.  Indeed,  so  extremely  anxious 
was  he  to  preserve  peace  ever  in  trivial  matters,  that,  as  his 
countrymen  used  to  assemble  in  taverns,  and  when  a  little 
elevated  quarrel  as  to  the  proportions  of  their  liquor,  he  or- 
dered gold  or  silver  pegs  to  be  fastened  in  the  pots,  that 
whilst  every  man  knew  his  just  measure,  shame  should  com- 
pel each  neither  to  take  more  himself,  nor  oblige  others  to 
drink  beyond  their  proportional  share.  Osberne,*  precentor 
of  Canterbury,  second  to  none  of  these  times  in  composition, 
and  indisputably  the  best  skilled  of  all  in  music,  who  wrote 
his  life  with  Roman  elegance,  forbids  me  to  relate  farther 
praiseworthy  anecdotes  of  him.  Besides,  in  addition  to  this, 
if  the  divine  grace  shall  accompany  my  design,  I  intend  after 
the  succession  of  the  kings  at  least  to  particularize  the  names 
of  all  the  bishops  of  each  province  in  England,  and  to  offer 
tchem  to  the  knowledge  of  my  countrymen,  if  I  shall  be  able 

*  Osbcrne's  Life  of  St.  Dunstan  is  published  in  the  Anglia  Sacra,  vol.  ii. 

A.D.  973.]  KING  Edgar's  reforms.  149 

to  coin  anything  "wortli  notice  out  of  tlie  mintage  of  anti- 
quity. How  powerful  indeed  the  sanctity  and  virtue  of 
Dunstan's  disciples  were,  is  sufficiently  evidenced  by  Ethel- 
wold,  made  abbat  of  Abingdon  from  a  monk  of  Glastonbury, 
and  afterwards  bishop  of  Winchester,  who  built  so  many  and 
such  great  monasteries,  as  to  make  it  appear  hardly  credible 
how  the  bishop  of  one  see  should  be  able  to  effect  what  the 
king  of  England  himself  could  scarcely  undertake.  I  am 
deceived,  and  err  through  hasty  opinion,  if  what  I  assert  be 
not  evident.  How  great  are  the  monasteries  of  Ely,  Peter- 
borough, and  Thorney,  which  he  raised  from  the  foundations, 
and  completed  by  his  industry  ;  which  though  repeatedly  re- 
duced by  the  wickedness  of  plunderers,  are  yet  sufficient  for 
their  inhabitants.  His  life  was  composed  in  a  decent  style 
by  Wulstan,*  precentor  of  Winchester,  who  had  been  his 
attendant  and  pupil :  he  wrote  also  another  very  useful  work, 
"  On  the  Harmony  of  Sounds,"  a  proof  that  he  was  a  learned 
Englishman,  a  man  of  pious  life  and  correct  eloquence.  At 
that  time  too  Oswald,  nephew  of  Odo,  who  had  been  arch- 
bishop before  Dunstan,  from  a  monk  of  Flory  becoming  bi- 
shop of  Worcester  and  archbishop  of  York,  claimed  equal 
honours  with  the  others.  Treading  the  same  paths,  he  ex- 
tended the  monastic  profession  by  his  authority,  and  built  a 
monastery  at  Ramsey  in  a  marshy  situation.  He  filled  the 
cathedral  of  Worcester  with  monks,  the  canons  not  being 
di'iven  out  by  force,  but  circumvented  by  pious  fraud. f 
Bishop  Ethelwold,  by  the  royal  command,  had  before  ex- 
pelled the  canons  from  Winchester,  who,  upon  the  king's 
giving  them  an  option  either  to  live  according  to  rule,  or  de- 
part the  place,  gave  the  preference  to  an  easy  life,  and  were 
at  that  time  without  fixed  habitations  wandering  over  the 
whole  island.  In  this  manner  these  three  persons,  illumina- 
ting England,  as  it  were,  with  a  triple  light,  chased  away  the 
thick  darkness  of  error.  In  consequence,  Edgar  advanced 
the  monastery  of  Glastonbury,  wliich  he  ever  loved  beyond 
all  others,  with  great  possessions,  and  was  anxiously  vigilant 

*  Wulstan's  Life  of  Ethelwold  is  printed  by  Mabillon,  and  in  the  Acta 
Sanctorum,  Antwerp.  Aug.  tome  i. 

+  He  erected  another  church  at  Worcester,  in  which  he  placed  monks. 
The  canons  finding  the  people  desert  them  in  order  to  obtain  the  favour  of 
the  new  comers,  by  degrees  took  the  monastic  habit.  See  Malmesbury  de 
Gest.  Pontif.  lib.  iii. 

150  WILLIAM  OF  MALMESBUKY.  [b.  ir.  c.  8, 

in  all  things  pertaining  either  to  the  beauty  or  convenience 
of  the  church,  whether  internally  or  externally.  It  may  be 
proper  here  to  subjoin  to  our  narrative  the  charter  he 
granted  to  the  said  church,  as  I  have  read  it  in  their  ancient 

*  Some  MSS.  omit  from  "  Edgar  of  glorious  memory,  &c."  to  **  spoken 
of  another.  The  monastic  order,"  &c.  in  page  155,  and  insert  the  charter 
at  length,  together  with  what  follows  it,  thus  : 

''  In  the  name  of  om*  Lord  Jesus  Christ :  although  the  decrees  of  pon- 
tiffs and  the  decisions  of  priests  are  fixed  by  irrevocable  bonds,  like  the 
foundations  of  the  mountains,  yet,  nevertheless,  through  the  storms  and 
tempests  of  secular  matters,  and  the  corruptions  of  reprobate  men,  the  in- 
stitutions of  the  holy  church  of  God  are  often  convulsed  and  broken. 
Wherefore  I  perceive  that  it  will  be  advantageous  to  posterity  that  I  should 
confirm  by  writing  what  has  been  determined  by  wholesome  counsel  and 
common  consent.  In  consequence,  it  seems  proper  that  the  church  of  the 
most  blessed  mother  of  God,  the  eternal  virgin  Mary,  of  Glastonbury,  in- 
asmuch as  it  has  always  possessed  the  chief  dignity  in  my  kingdom,  should 
be  honoured  by  us  with  some  especial  and  unusual  privilege.  Dunstan, 
therefore,  and  Oswald,  archbishops  of  Canterbury  and  York,  exhorting 
thereto,  and  Brithelm,  bishop  of  Wells,  and  other  bishops,  abbats,  and 
chiefs  assenting  and  approving,  I,  Edgar,  by  the  grace  of  God,  king  of  the 
English,  and  ruler  and  governor  of  the  adjacent  nations,  in  the  name  of  the 
blessed  Trinity,  for  the  soul  of  my  father  who  reposes  there,  and  of  my  pre- 
decessors, do  by  this  present  privilege  decree,  appoint,  and  establish,  that 
the  aforesaid  monastery  and  all  its  possessions  shall  remain  free  and  exone- 
rated from  all  payments  to  the  Exchequer  now  and  for  ever  :  they  shall  have 
soc  and  sac,  on  stronde  and  on  wude,  on  felde,  on  grithbrice,  on  burgbrice, 
hundredsetena,  and  mortheras,  athas,  and  ordelas,  ealle  hordas  bufan  eor- 
than,  and  beneothan  :  infangenetheof,  utfangenetheof,  flemenefertha,  ham- 
socne,  friderbrice,  foresteal,  toll  and  team,  just  as  free  and  peaceably  as  I 
have  in  my  kingdom  :  let  the  same  liberty  and  power  also  as  I  have  in  my 
own  court,  as  well  in  forgiving  as  in  punishing,  and  in  every  other  matter, 
be  possessed  by  the  abbat  and  monks  of  the  aforesaid  monastery  within 
their  court.  And  should  the  abbat,  or  any  monk  of  that  place,  upon  his 
journey,  meet  a  thief  going  to  the  gallows,  or  to  any  other  punishment  of 
death,  they  shall  have  power  of  rescuing  him  from  the  impending  danger 
throughout  my  kingdom.  Moreover,  I  confirm  and  establish  what  has 
hitherto  been  scrupulously  observed  by  all  my  predecessors,  that  the  bishop 
of  Wells  and  his  ministers  shall  have  no  power  whatever  over  this  monas- 
tery, or  its  parish-churches  ;  that  is  to  say,  Street,  Miricling  [Merlinge] , 
Budecal,  Shapwick,  Sowy,  or  their  chapels,  or  even  over  those  contained 
in  the  islands,  that  is  to  say,  Beokery,  otherwise  called  Little  Ireland,  God- 
ney,  Martensia,  Patheneberga,  Adredseia,  and  Ferramere,  except  only 
when  summoned  by  the  abbat  for  dedications  or  ordinations,  nor  shall  they 
cite  their  priests  to  their  synods  or  chapters,  or  to  any  of  their  courts,  nor 
shall  they  suspend  them  from  their  holy  office,  or  presume  to  exercise  any 
right  over  them  whatever.  The  abbat  shall  cause  any  bishop  of  the  same 
province  he  pleases  to  ordain  his  monks,  and  the  clerks  of  the  aforesaid 

A.  o.  973.1  Edgar's  CHARTER,  151 

"Edgar  of  glorious  memory,  king  of  the  Angles,  son 
of  king  Edmund,  whose  inclinations  were  ever  vigilantly 
bent  on  divine  matters,  often  coming  to  the  monastery  of  the 

churches,  according  to  the  ancient  custom  of  the  church  of  Glastonbury, 
and  the  apostolical  authority  of  archbishop  Dxmstan,  and  of  all  the  bishops 
of  my  kingdom  ;  but  the  dedications  of  the  churches  we  consign  to  the 
bishop  of  Wells,  if  he  be  required  by  the  abbat.  At  Easter  let  him  re- 
ceive the  chrism  of  sanctification,  and  the  oil  from  the  bishop  of  Wells, 
according  to  custom,  and  distribute  them  to  his  before  mentioned  churches. 
This  too  I  command  above  all  other  things  :  on  the  curse  of  God,  and  bv 
my  authority,  saving  the  right  of  the  holy  Roman  church,  and  that  of 
Canterbury,  I  inhibit  all  persons,  of  whatever  dignity,  be  they  king,  or 
bishop,  or  earl,  or  prince,  or  any  of  my  dependants,  from  daring  to  enter 
the  bounds  of  Glastonbury,  or  of  the  above  named  parishes,  for  the  purpose 
of  searching,  seizing,  holding  courts,  or  doing  any  thing  to  the  prejudice  of 
the  servants  of  God  there  residing.  The  abbat  and  convent  shall  alone 
have  power  in  causes  known  and  unknown,  in  small  and  in  great,  and  in 
every  thing  as  we  have  before  related.  And  whosoever,  upon  any  occasion, 
whatever  be  his  dignity,  whatever  his  order,  whatever  his  profession,  shall 
attempt  to  pervert  or  nullify  the  pre-eminency  of  this^ny  privilege  by  sacri- 
legious boldness,  let  him  be  aware  that  he  must  Avithout  a  doubt  give  ac- 
count thereof,  with  fear  and  trembling,  before  a  severe  Judge,  unless  he 
first  endeavour  to  make  reparation  by  proper  satisfaction."  The  charter 
of  this  privilege  the  aforesaid  king  Edgar  confirmed  by  his  o^vn  signature  at 
London,  in  the  twelfth  year  of  his  reign,  with  the  common  consent  of  his 
nobles  ;  and  in  the  same  year,  which  was  the  965th  of  our  Lord's  incarna- 
tion, and  the  14th  of  the  indiction,  pope  John,  in  a  general  assembly,  au- 
thorized it  at  Rome,  and  made  all  the  men  of  chief  dignity  who  presided 
at  that  council  confirm  it ;  and  also,  from  motives  of  paternal  regard,  sent 
a  letter  to  the  following  effect  to  earl  Alfric,  who  was  then  grievously  per- 
secuting the  aforesaid  church  : — 

"  Bishop  John,  servant  of  the  servants  of  God,  to  Alfric  the  distinguished 
earl,  and  our  dearly  beloved  son  in  the  Spirit,  perpetual  health  and  apos- 
tolical benediction.  We  have  learned,  from  the  report  of  certain  faithful 
people,  that  you  commit  many  enormities  against  the  church  of  the  holy 
mother  of  God,  called  Mary  of  Glastonbmy,  which  is  acknowledged  to  be- 
long solely  to,  and  to  be  under  the  protection  of,  the  Roman  Pontiff,  from 
the  earliest  times  ;  and  that  you  have  seized  Avith  boundless  rapacity  upon 
its  estates  and  possessions,  and  even  the  churches  of  Brent  and  Pilton, 
which,  by  the  gift  of  king  Ina,  it  legally  possesses,  together  with  other 
churches,  that  is  to  say,  SoAAy,  Martine,  Budecal,  ShapA\dck,  and  that  on 
account  of  your  near  residence  you  are  a  continual  enemy  to  its  interests. 
It  Avould,  however,  have  been  becoming,  from  your  living  so  near,  that  by 
your  assistance  the  holy  church  of  God  might  have  been  much  benefited 
and  enriched  ;  but,  horrible  to  say  !  it  is  impoA^erished  by  your  hostility, 
and  injured  by  your  deeds  of  oppression  ;  and  since  Ave  doubt  not  that  we, 
though  uriAvorthily,  have  received  from  St.  Peter  the  apostle  the  care  of  all 
the  churches,  and  solicitude  for  all  things  ;  we  therefore  admonish  your 
affection,  to  abstain  from  plvmdering  it,  for  the  love  of  the  apostles  Peter 

152  WILLIAM   OF   aiALMESBURY.  '       [b.  rr.  c.  8. 

holj  mother  of  God  at  Glastonbury,  and  studying  to  honour 
tills  place  with  dignity  superior  to  others,  hath  by  the  com- 
mon consent  of  the  bishops,  abbats,  and  nobility,  conferred 
on  it  many  and  very  splendid  privileges  ; — the  first  of  which 
is,  that  no  person,  unless  a  monk  of  that  place,  shall  there  be 
abbat,  either  in  name  or  in  office,  nor  any  other,  except  such 
as  the  common  consent  of  the  meeting  shall  have  chosen  ac- 
cording to  the  tenor  of  the  rule.  But  should  necessity  so 
ordain,  that  an  abbat  or  monk  of  another  monastery  be  made 
president  of  this  place,  then  he  deems  it  proper  that  none 
shall  be  appointed,  but  such  as  the  congregation  of  the  mo- 
nastery may  elect,  to  preside  over  them  in  the  fear  of  the 
Lord  ;  nor  shall  this  be  done,  if  any,  even  the  lowest  of  the 
congregation,  can  be  there  found  fit  for  the  office.  He  hath 
appointed  too,  that  the  election  of  their  abbat  shall  rest  for 
ever  in  the  monks,  reserving  only  to  himself  and  his  heirs 
the  power  of  giving  the  pastoral  staff  to  the  elected  brother. 
He  hath  ordained  also,  that  so  often  as  the  abbat  or  the 
monks  of  this  place  shall  appoint  any  of  their  society  to  be 
dignified  Math  holy  orders,  they  shall  cause  any  bishop 
canonically  ordained,  either  in  his  own  cathedral,  or  in  the 
monastery  of  St.  Mary  at  Glastonbury,  to  ordain  such  monks 
and  clerks  as  they  deem  fit  to  the  church  of  St.  Mary.  Pie 
hath  granted  moreover,  that  as  he  himself  decides  in  his  own 
dominions,  so  the  abbat  or  the  convent  shall  decide  the  causes 
of  their  entire  island,*  in  all  matters  ecclesiastical  or 
secular,  without  the  contradiction  of  any  one.  Nor  shall  it 
be  lawful  for  any  person  to  enter  that  island  which  bore  wit- 
ness to  his  birth,  whether  he  be  bishop,  duke,  or  prince,  or 
person  of  whatever  order,  for  the  purpose  of  there  doing  any 
thing  prejudicial  to  the  servants  of  God  :  this  he  forbids  al- 
together, in  the  same  manner  as  his  predecessors  have  sanc- 
tioned and  confirmed  by  their  privileges  ;  that  is  to  say, 
Kentwin,  Ina,  Ethelard,  Cuthred,  Alfred,  Edward,  Athel- 
stan,  and  Edmund.     When,  therefore,  by  the  common  con- 

and  Paul,  and  respect  to  us,  invading  none  of  its  possessions,  churches, 
chapels,  places,  and  estates  ;  but  if  you  persist,  remember,  that  by  the  au- 
thority of  the  chief  of  the  apostles,  committed  unto  us,  you  shall  be  ex- 
communicated and  banished  from  the  company  of  the  faithful,  subjected 
to  a  perpetual  curse,  and  doomed  to  eternal  fire  with  the  traitor  Judas." 

*  Glastonbury  is  situated  on  land  which  was  once  an  island  formed  by  a 
stagnation  of  inland  waters,  in  a  low  situation. 

AD.  1)73.]  CHARTER  OF  GLASTONBURY.  153 

sent,  as  has  been  said,  of  liis  prelates,  abbats,  and  nobility, 
he  determined  to  grant  these  privileges  to  the  place  afore- 
said, he  laid  his  own  horn,  beautifully  formed  of  ivory  and 
adorned  with  gold,  upon  the  altar  of  the  holy  mother  of  God, 
and  by  that  donation  confirmed  them  to  the  same  holy  mo- 
ther of  God,  and  her  monks,  to  be  possessed  for  ever. 
Soon  after  he  caused  this  horn  to  be  cut  in  two  in  his  pre- 
sence, that  no  future  abbat  might  give  or  sell  it  to  any  one, 
commanding  part  of  it  to  be  kept  upon  the  spot  for  a  testi- 
mony of  the  aforesaid  donation.  Recollecting,  however,  how 
great  is  the  temerity  of  human  inconstancy,  and  on  whom  it 
is  likely  to  creep,  and  fearing  lest  any  one  hereafter  should 
attempt  to  take  away  these  privileges  from  this  place,  or 
eject  the  monks,  he  sent  this  charter  of  royal  liberality  to 
the  renowned  lord,  pope  John,  who  had  succeeded  Octavian 
in  the  honour  of  the  pontificate,  begging  him  to  corroborate 
these  grants  by  an  apostolical  bull.  Kindly  receiving  the 
legation,  the  pope,  with  the  assenting  voice  of  the  Roman 
council,  confirmed  what  had  been  already  ordained,  by  wri- 
ting an  apostolical  injunction,  terribly  hurling  on  the  viola- 
tors of  them,  should  any  be  so  daring,  the  vengeance  of  a 
\^  perpetual  curse.  This  confirmation  therefore  of  the  afore- 
said pope,  directed  to  the  same  place,  king  Edgar,  of  worthy 
memory,  laid  upon  the  altar  of  the  holy  mother  of  God  for  a 
perpetual  remembrance,  commanding  it  to  be  carefully  kept 
in  future  for  the  information  of  posterity.  We  have  judged 
it  proper  to  insert  both  these  instruments,  lest  we  should  be 
supposed  to  invent  such  things  against  those  persons  who 
seek  to  enter  into  the  fold  of  St.  Mary,  not  like  shepherds,  by 
the  door,  but  like  thieves  and  robbers,  some  other  way.  "  Be 
it  known  to  all  the  faithful,  that  I,  John  the  twelfth,  through 
the  mercy  of  God  unworthy  pope  of  the  holy  Roman  See, 
am  intreated  by  the  humble  request  of  the  noble  Edgar,  king 
of  the  Angles,  and  of  Dunstan,  archbishop  of  the  holy  church 
of  Canterbury,  for  the  monastery  of  St.  Mary,  Glastonbury  ; 
which,  induced  by  the  love  of  the  heavenly  King,  they  have 
endowed  with  many  great  possessions,  increasing  in  it  the  mo- 
nastic order,  and  having  confirmed  it  by  royal  grant,  they  pray 
me  also  so  to  do.  Wherefore  assenting  to  their  affectionate 
request,  I  take  that  place  into  the  bosom  of  the  Roman 
church,  and  the  protection  of  the  holy  apostles,  and  support 

154  "wtlliam:  of  MALMESBTJRY.  [b.  n.  c.  8. 

and  confirm  its  immunities  as  long  as  it  shall  remain  in  the 
same  conventual  order  in  which  it  now  flourishes.  The 
monks  shall  have  power  to  elect  their  own  superior  ;  ordina- 
tion, as  well  of  monks  as  of  clerks,  shall  be  at  the  will  of  the 
abbat  and  convent.  We  ordain,  moreover,  that  no  person 
shall  have  liberty  to  enter  this  island,  either  to  hold  courts, 
to  make  inquiry,  or  to  correct ;  and  should  any  one  attempt 
to  oppose  this,  or  to  take  away,  retain,  diminish,  or  harass 
with  vexatious  boldness,  the  possessions  of  the  same  church, 
he  shall  become  liable  to  a  perpetual  curse,  by  the  authority 
of  God  the  Father,  Son,  and  Holy  Spirit,  the  holy  mother  of 
God,  the  holy  apostles  Peter  and  Paul,  and  all  saints,  unless 
he  recant.  But  the  peace  of  our  Lord  Jesus  Christ  be  with 
all  who  maintain  the  rights  of  the  place  aforesaid.  Amen. 
And  let  this  our  deed  remain  unshaken.  Done  in  the  time  of 
Edward,  abbat  of  the  said  monastery."  The  aforesaid  king 
Edgcir  confirmed  these  things  at  London,  by  his  solemn  char- 
ter, in  the  twelfth  year  of  his  reign  ;  and  in  the  same  year, 
that  is,  of  our  Lord  965,*  the  pope  aforesaid  allowed  them  in 
a  general  synod  at  Rome,  and  commanded  all  members  of 
superior,  dignity  who  were  present  at  the  said  general  coun- 
cil, to  confirm  them  likewise.  Let  the  despisers  then  of  so 
terrible  a  curse  consider  well  what  an  extensive  sentence  of 
excommunication  hangs  over  their  heads  :  and  indeed  to  St. 
Peter  the  apostle,  the  chief  of  apostles,  Christ  gave  the  office 
either  of  binding  or  loosing,  as  well  as  the  keys  of  the  king- 
dom of  heaven.  But  to  all  the  faithful  it  must  be  plain  and 
evident,  that  the  head  of  the  Roman  church  must  be  the 
vicar  of  this  apostle,  and  the  immediate  inheritor  of  his 
power.  Over  this  church  then  John  of  holy  memory  lauda- 
bly presided  in  his  lifetime,  as  he  lives  to  this  day  in  glorious 
recollection,  promoted  thereto  by  the  choice  of  God  and  of 
all  the  people.  If  then  the  ordinance  of  St.  Peter  the  apos- 
tle be  binding,  consequently  that  of  John  the  pope  must  be  so 
likewise  ;  but  not  even  a  madman  would  deny  the  ordinance 
of  Peter  the  apostle  to  be  binding,  consequently  no  one  in  his 
sober  senses  can  say  that  the  ordinance  of  John  the  pope  is 
invalid.  Either,  therefore,  acknowledging  the  power  con- 
ferred by  Christ  on  St.  Peter  and  his  successors,  they  will 
abstain  from  transgressing  against  the  authority  of  so  dread- 
*  The  twelfth  of  Ed<?ar  was  971. 


ful  an  interdict,  or  else  contemning  it,  they  will,  with  the 
devil  and  his  angels,  bring  upon  themselves  the  eternal  dura- 
tion of  the  curse  aforewritten.  In  consequence,  it  is  mani- 
fest that  no  stranger  ever  seized  this  monastery  for  himself, 
who  did  not,  as  shall  appear,  disgracefully  lose  it  again  ;  and 
that  this  occurred,  not  by  any  concerted  plan  of  the  monks, 
but  by  the  judgment  of  God,  for  the  avenging  his  holy  au- 
thority. Wherefore  let  no  man  reading  this  despise  it,  nor 
make  himself  conspicuous  by  being  angry  at  it ;  for  should 
he,  perhaps  he  will  confess  that  to  be  said  of  himself  which 
was  designed  to  be  spoken  of  another.  The  monastic  order, 
for  a  long  time  depressed,  now  joyfully  reared  its  head,  and 
hence  it  came  to  pass  that  our  monastery  also  resumed  its 
ancient  liberties  :  but  this  I  think  will  be  more  suitably  rela- 
ted in  the  words  of  the  king  himself. 

"I,  Edgar,  king  of  all  Albion,  and  exalted,  by  the  subjec- 
tion of  the  surrounding  kings  maritime  or  insular,  by  the 
bountiful  grace  of  God,  to  a  degree  never  enjoyed  by  any  of 
my  progenitors,  have  often,  mindful  of  so  high  an  honour, 
diligently  considered  what  offering  I  should  more  especially 
make  from  my  earthly  kingdom,  to  the  King  of  kings.  In 
aid  of  my  pious  devotion,  heavenly  love  suddenly  insinuated 
to  my  watchful  solicitude,  that  I  should  rebuild  all  the  holy 
monasteries  throughout  my  kingdom,  which,  as  they  were 
outwardly  ruinous,  with  mouldering  shingles  and  worm-eaten 
boards,  even  to  the  rafters,  so,  what  was  still  worse,  they  had 
become  internally  neglected,  and  almost  destitute  of  the  ser- 
vice of  God  ;  wherefore,  ejecting  those  illiterate  clerks,  sub- 
ject to  the  discipline  of  no  regular  order,  in  many  places  I 
have  appointed  pastors  of  an  holier  race,  that  is,  of  the  mon- 
astic order,  supplying  them  with  ample  means  out  of  my 
royal  revenues  to  repair  their  churches  wherever  ruinated. 
One  of  these  pastors,  by  name  Elfric,  in  all  tilings  a  true 
priest,  I  have  appointed  guardian  of  that  most  celebrated 
monastery  which  the  Angles  call  by  a  twofold  name  Mald- 
elmes-burgh.  To  which,  for  the  benefit  of  my  soul,  and  in 
honour  of  our  Saviour,  and  the  holy  mother  of  God  the  vir- 
gin Mary,  and  the  apostles  Peter  and  Paul,  and  the  amiable 
prelate  Aldhelm,  I  have  restored,  with  munificent  liberality, 
a  portion  of  land  :  and  more  especially  a  piece  of  ground,* 

*  Here  is  an  omission,  apparently,  which  may  be  supplied  from  the  Ang. 

156  WILLIAM   OF   IVIALMESBURY.  [b.  n.  c.  8. 

with  meadows  and  woods.  This,  leased  out  by  the  aforesaid 
priest,  was  unjustly  held  by  the  contentious  Edelnot;  but  his 
vain  and  subtle  disputation  being  heard  by  my  counsel- 
lors, and  his  false  defence  being,  in  my  presence,  nullified, 
by  them,  I  have  restored  it  to  the  use  of  the  monastery  in 
the  year  of  our  Lord  974,  in  the  fourteenth  of  my  reign,  and 
the  first  of  my  royal  consecration." 

And  here  I  deem  it  not  irrelevant  to  commit  to  writing 
what  was  supernaturally  shown  to  the  king.  He  had  entered 
a  wood  abundant  in  game,  and,  as  usually  happens,  while  his 
associates  were  dispersed  in  the  thicket  for  the  purpose  of  hunt- 
ing, he  was  left  alone.  Pursuing  his  course,  he  came  to  the  out- 
let of  the  wood,  and  stopping  there  waited  for  his  companions. 
Shortly  after,  seized  with  an  irresistible  desire  to  sleep,  he 
alighted  from  his  horse,  that  the  enjoyment  of  a  short  re- 
pose might  assuage  the  fatigue  of  the  past  day.  He  lay 
down,  therefore,  under  a  wild  apple-tree,  where  the  cluster- 
ing branches  had  formed  a  shady  canopy  all  around.  A 
river,  flowing  softly  beside  him,  adding  to  his  drowsiness,  by  its 
gentle  murmur  soothed  him  to  sleep ;  when  a  bitch,  of  the 
hunting  breed,  pregnant,  and  lying  down  at  his  feet,  terri- 
fied him  in  his  slumbers.  Though  the  mother  was  silent, 
yet  the  whelps  within  her  womb  barked  in  various  sonorous 
tones,  incited,  as  it  were,  by  a  singular  delight  in  the  place 
of  their  confinement.  Astonished  at  this  prodigy,  as  he 
lifted  up  his  eyes  towards  the  summit  of  the  tree,  he  saw, 
first  one  apple,  and  then  another,  fall  into  the  river,  by  the 
collision  of  which,  the  watery  bubbles  being  put  in  commo- 
tion, a  voice  articulately  sounded,  "Well  is  thee."  Soon 
after,  driven  by  the  rippling  wave,  a  little  pitcher  appeared 
upon  the  stream,  and  after  that  a  larger  vessel,  overflowing 
with  water,  for  the  former  was  empty  :  and  although  by  the 
violence  of  the  stream  the  greater  vessel  pressed  upon  the 
lesser  that  it  might  discharge  its  waters  into  it ;  yet  it  ever 
happened  that  the  pitcher  escaped,  still  empty,  and  again,  as 
in  a  haughty  and  insulting  manner,  attacked  the  larger.  Re- 
turning home,  as  the  Psalmist  says,  "  He  thought  upon  what 
had  been  done,  and  sought  out  his  spirit."  His  mother  ad- 
dressed him,  however,  that  she  might  cheer  both  his  counte- 

Sac.  ii.  p.  33.  "  A  piece  of  ground,  to  wit,  of  ten  farms  (or  manors),  called 
Estotun,"  &c.     G.  Malm,  de  Vita  Adhelmi. 

A.p.  973.]  Edgar's  vision.  157 

nance  and  his  heart ;  saying,  it  should  be  her  care  to  entreat 
God,  who  knew  how  to  explain  mysteries  by  the  light  of  his 
inspiration.  With  this  admonition  he  dispelled  his  grief  and 
dismissed  his  anxiety,  conscious  of  his  mother's  sanctity,  to 
whom  God  had  vouchsafed  many  revelations.  Her  name 
was  Elfgiva,  a  woman  intent  on  good  works,  and  gifted  with 
such  affection  and  kindness,  that  she  would  even  secretly 
discharge  the  penalties  of  those  culprits  whom  the  sad  sen- 
tence of  the  judges  had  publicly  condemned.  That  costly 
clothing,  which,  to  many  women,  is  the  pander  of  vice,  was 
to  her  the  means  of  liberality ;  as  she  would  give  a  garment 
of  the  most  beautiful  workmanship  to  the  first  poor  person 
6he  saw.  Even  malice  itself,  as  there  was  nothing  to  carp  at, 
might  praise  the  beauty  of  her  person  and  the  work  of  her 
nands.  Thoroughly  comprehending  the  presage,  she  said 
to  her  son  next  morning,  "  The  barking  of  the  whelps  while 
the  mother  was  sleeping,  implies,  that  after  your  death,  those 
persons  vfho  are  now  living  and  in  power,  dying  also,  mis- 
creants yet  unborn  will  bark  against  the  church  of  God. 
And  whereas  one  apple  followed  the  other,  so  that  the  voice, 
'  Well  is  thee,'  seemed  to  proceed  from  the  dashing  of  the 
second  against  the  first,  this  implies  that  from  you,  who  are 
now  a  tree  shading  all  England,  two  sons  will  proceed  ;  the 
favourers  of  the  second  will  destroy  the  first,  when  the 
chiefs  of  the  different  parties  will  say  to  each  of  the  boys, 
'  Well  is  thee,'  because  the  dead  will  reign  in  heaven,  the 
living  on  earth,  Forasmuch  as  the  greater  pitcher  could  not 
fill  the  smaller,  this  signifies,  that  the  Northern  nations, 
which  are  more  numerous  than  the  English,  shall  attack 
England  after  your  death;  and,  although  they  may  recruit 
their  deficiencies  by  perpetual  supplies  of  their  countrymen, 
yet  they  shall  never  be  able  to  fill  this  Angle  of  the  world, 
but  instead  of  that,  our  Angles,  when  they  seem  to  be  com- 
pletely subjugated,  shall  drive  them  out,  and  it  shall  remain 
under  its  own  and  God's  governance,  even  unto  the  time  be- 
fore appointed  by  Christ.     Amen." 

Farther  perusal  will  justify  the  truth  of  the  presage.  The 
manifest  sanctity  both  of  parent  and  child  ought  here  to  be 
considered ;  that  the  one  should  see  a  mystery  when  broad 
awake  without  impediment,  and  that  the  other  should  be  able 
to  solve  the  problem  by  the  far-discerning  eye  of  prophecy. 

158  WILLIAM   OP    MALMESBURY.  La  ii.  c.  8. 

The  rigour  of  Edgar's  justice  was  equal  to  the  sanctity  of 
his  manners,  so  that  he  permitted  no  person,  be  his  dignity 
what  it  might,  to  elude  the  laws  with  impunity.  In  his  time 
there  was  no  private  thief,  no  public  freebooter,  unless  such 
as  chose  to  risk  the  loss  of  life  for  their  attacks  upon  the 
property  of  others.*  How,  indeed,  can  it  be  supposed  that 
he  would  pass  over  the  crimes  of  men  when  he  designed  to  ex- 
terminate every  beast  of  prey  from  his  kingdom ;  and  com- 
manded Judwall,  king  of  the  Welsh,  to  pay  him  yearly  a 
tribute  of  three  hundred  wolves?  This  he  performed  for 
three  years,  but  omitted  in  the  fourth,  declaring  that  he 
could  find  no  more. 

Although  it  is  reported  that  he  was  extremely  small  both 
in  stature  and  in  bulk,  yet  nature  had  condescended  to  en- 
close such  strength  in  that  diminutive  body,  that  he  would 
voluntarily  challenge  any  person,  whom  he  knew  to  be  bold 
and  valiant,  to  engage  with  him,  and  his  greatest  apprehen- 
sion was,  lest  they  should  stand  in  awe  of  him  in  these 
encounters.  Moreover,  at  a  certain  banquet,  where  the 
prating  of  coxcombs  generally  shows  itself  very  freely,  it  is 
reported  that  Kinad,  king  of  the  Scots,  said  in  a  sportive 
manner,  that  it  seemed  extraordinary  to  him  how  so  many 
provinces  should  be  subject  to  such  a  sorry  little  fellow.  This 
was  caught  up  with  malignant  ear  by  a  certain  minstrel,  and 
afterwards  cast  in  Edgar's  teeth,  with  the  customary  raillery 
of  such  people.  But  he,  concealing  the  circumstance  from 
his  friends,  sent  for  Kinad,  as  if  to  consult  him  on  some 
secret  matter  of  importance,  and  leading  him  aside  far 
into  the  recesses  of  a  wood,  he  gave  him  one  of  two  swords, 
which  he  had  brought  with  him.  "  Now,"  said  he,  "  as  we  are 
alone,  I  shall  have  an  opportunity  of  proving  your  strength ; 
I  will  now  make  it  appear  which  ought  deservedly  to  com- 
mand the  other ;  nor  shall  you  stir  a  foot  till  you  try  the 
matter  with  me,  for  it  is  disgraceful  in  a  king  to  prate  at  a 
banquet,  and  not  to  be  prompt  in  action."  Confused,  and 
not  daring  to  utter  a  word,  he  fell  at  the  feet  of  his  sovereign 

*  Edgar's  laws  for  the  punishment  of  offenders  were  horribly  severe.  The 
eyes  were  put  out,  nostrils  slit,  ears  torn  off,  hands  and  feet  cut  off,  and, 
finally,  after  the  scalp  had  been  torn  off,  the  miserable  Avretches  M^ere  left 
exposed  to  birds  or  beasts  of  prey.  V.  Acta  Sanctor.  Jul.  2,  in  Vita 

A.D.973.3  Edgar's  character.  159 

lord,  and  asked  pardon  for  what  was  merely  a  joke;  which 
he  immediately  obtained.  But  what  of  this  ?  Every  sum- 
mer, as  soon  as  the  festival  of  Easter  was  passed,  he  ordered 
his  ships  to  be  collected  on  each  coast ;  cruising  to  the  west- 
ern part  of  the  island  with  the  eastern  fleet ;  and,  dismissing 
that,  with  the  western  to  the  north ;  and  then  again  with 
the  northern  squadron  towards  the  east,  carefully  vigilant 
lest  pirates  should  disturb  the  country.  During  the  winter 
and  spring,  travelling  through  the  provinces,  he  made  inquiry 
*nto  the  decisions  of  men  in  power,  severely  avenging  violated 
laws,  by  the  one  mode  advancing  justice,  by  the  other  military 
strength ;  and  in  both  consulting  public  utility.  There  are 
some  persons,  indeed,  who  endeavour  to  dim  his  exceeding 
glory  by  saying,  that  in  his  earlier  years  he  was  cruel  to  his 
subjects,  and  libidinous  in  respect  of  virgins.  Thtlr  first 
accusation  they  exemplify  thus.  There  was,  in  his  time, 
one  Athelwold,  a  nobleman  of  celebrity  and  one  of  his  con- 
fidants. The  king  had  commissioned  him  to  visit  Elfthrida, 
daughter  of  Ordgar,  duke  of  Devonshire,  (whose  charms  had 
so  fascinated  the  eyes  of  some  persons  that  they  commended 
her  to  the  king),  and  to  offer  her  marriage,  if  her  beauty 
were  really  equal  to  report.  Hastening  on  his  embassy,  and 
finding  everything  consonant  to  general  estimation,  he  con- 
cealed his  mission  from  her  parents  and  procured  the  damsel 
for  himself.  Returning  to  the  king,  he  told  a  tale  which 
made  for  his  own  purpose ;  that  she  was  a  girl  nothing  out 
of  the  common  track  of  beauty,  and  by  no  means  worthy 
such  transcendent  dignity.  When  Edgar's  heart  was  disen- 
gaged from  this  affair,  and  employed  on  other  amours,  some 
tattlers  acquainted  liim,  how  completely  Athelwold  had 
duped  him  by  his  artifices.  Paying  him  in  his  own  coin,  that 
is,  returning  him  deceit  for  deceit,  he  showed  the  earl  a  fair 
countenance,  and,  as  in  a  sportive  manner,  appointed  a 
day  when  he  would  visit  his  far-famed  lady.  Terrified, 
almost  to  death,  with  this  dreadful  pleasantry,  he  hastened 
before  to  his  wife,  entreating  that  she  would  administer  to 
his  safety  by  attiring  herself  as  unbecomingly  as  possible  : 
then  first  disclosing  the  intention  of  such  a  proceeding. 
But  what  did  not  tliis  woman  dare  ?  She  W"as  hardy  enough 
to  deceive  the  confidence  of  her  first  lover,  her  first  husband  ; 
tp^  call  up  every  charm  by  art,  and  to  omit  nothing  which 

160  T7ILLIAM   OF   MALMESBURY.  [B.rr.c.  8. 

could  stimulate  the  desire  of  a  young  and  powerful  man. 
Nor  did  events  happen  contrary  to  her  design.  For  he  fell 
so  desperately  in  love  v/ith  her  the  moment  he  saw  her,  that, 
dissembling  his  indignation,  he  sent  for  the  earl  into  a  wood 
at  Warewelle,*  called  Harewood,  under  pretence  of  hunting, 
and  ran  him  through  with  a  javelin  :  and  when  the  illegiti- 
mate son  of  the  murdered  nobleman  approached  with  his  ac- 
customed familiarity,  and  was  asked  by  the  king  how  he 
liked  that  kind  of  sport,  he  is  reported  to  have  said,  "  Well, 
my  sovereign  liege,  I  ought  not  to  be  displeased  with  that 
which  gives  you  pleasure."  This  answer  so  assuaged  the 
mind  of  the  raging  monarch,  that,  for  the  remainder  of  his 
life,  he  held  no  one  in  greater  estimation  than  this  young 
man ;  mitigating  the  offence  of  his  tyrannical  deed  against 
the  father,  by  royal  solicitude  for  the  son.  In  expiation  of 
this  crime,  a  monastery  which  was  built  on  the  spot  by 
Elfthrida  is  inhabited  by  a  large  congregation  of  nuns. 

To  this  instance  of  cruelty,  they  add  a  second  of  lust. 
Hearing  of  the  beauty  of  a  certain  virgin,  who  ^vas  dedicated 
to  God,  he  carried  her  off  from  a  monastery  by  force,  ravish- 
ed her,  and  repeatedly  made  her  the  partner  of  his  bed. 
When  this  circumstance  reached  the  ears  of  St.  Dunstan,  he 
was  vehemently  reproved  by  him,  and  underwent  a  seven 
years'  penance  ;  though  a  king,  submitting  to  fast  and  to 
forego  the  wearing  of  his  crown  for  that  period."]'  They  add 
a  third,  in  which  both  vices  may  be  discovered.  King  Edgar 
coming  to  Andover,  a  town  not  far  from  Winchester,  ordered 
the  daughter  of  a  certain  nobleman,  the  fame  of  whose  beauty 
had  been  loudly  extolled,  to  be  brought  to  him.  The  mother 
of  the  young  lady,  shocked  at  the  proposed  concubinage  of 
her  daughter,  assisted  by  the  darkness  of  night  placed  an 
attendant  in  his  bed  ;  a  maiden  indeed  neither  deficient  in 
elegance  nor  in  understanding.  The  night  having  passed, 
when  aurora  was  hastening  into  day,  the  woman  attempted  to 
rise  ;  and  being  asked,  "  why  in  such  haste  ?"  she  replied, 
"  to  perform  the  daily  labour  of  her  mistress."  Retained 
though  with  difficulty,  on  her  knees  she  bewailed  her 
wretched  situation  to  the  king,  and  entreated  her  freedom  as 

*  Whorwell,  Hants. 

t  This  seems  to  have  been  founded  on  the  singular  circumstance  of  his 
not  having  been  crowned  till  within  two  years  of  his  death. 

A.D.973.]  Edgar's  CHARACTER.  161 

the  recompence  of  her  connexion  with  him ;  saying,  "  that 
it  became  his  greatness,  not  to  suffer  one  who  had  ministered 
to  his  royal  pleasure,  any  longer  to  groan  under  the  com- 
mands of  cruel  masters."  His  indignation  being  excited, 
and  sternly  smiling,  while  his  mind  was  wavering  between 
pity  to  the  girl,  and  displeasure  to  her  mistress,  he,  at  last,  as 
if  treating  the  whole  as  a  joke,  released  her  from  servitude, 
and  dismissed  his  anger.  Soon  after,  he  exalted  her  with 
great  honour,  to  be  mistress  of  her  former  tyrants,  little  con- 
sulting how  they  liked  it,  loved  her  entirely,  nor  left  her  bed 
till  he  took  Elfthrida,  the  daughter  of  Ordgar,  to  be  his  legiti- 
mate wife.  Elfthrida  bore  him  Edmund,  who  dying  five 
years  before  his  father,  lies  buried  at  Romsey,  and  Ethelred, 
who  reigned  after  him.  Besides,  of  Egelfleda,  surnamed 
the  fair,  the  daughter  of  the  most  powerful  duke,  Ordmer, 
he  begot  Edward  ;  and  St.  Editha  of  Wulfritha,  who  it  is 
certain  was  not  a  nun  at  that  time,  but  being  a  lay  virgin 
had  assumed  the  veil  through  fear  of  the  king,  though  she 
was  immediately  afterwards  forced  to  the  royal  bed  ;  on 
which,  St.  Dunstan,  offended  that  he  should  desire  lustfully  a 
person  who  had  been  even  the  semblance  of  a  nun,  exerted 
the  pontifical  power  against  him.  But  however  these  things 
may  be,  this  is  certain,  that  from  the  sixteenth  year  of  his 
age,  when  he  was  appointed  king,  till  the  thirtieth,  he  reigned 
without  the  insignia  of  royalty  ;  for  at  that  time,  the  princes 
and  men  of  every  order  assembling  generally,  he  was  crowned 
with  great  pomp  at  Bath,  survived  only  three  years,  and  was 
buried  at  Glastonbury.  Nor  is  it  to  be  forgotten,  that  when 
abbat  Ailward  opened  his  tomb  in  the  year  of  our  Lord 
1052,  he  found  the  body  unconscious  of  corruption  ;  which 
instead  of  inclining  him  to  reverence,  served  only  to  in- 
crease his  audacity.  For  when  the  receptacle  which  he  had 
prepared,  seemed  too  small  to  admit  the  body,  he  profaned 
the  royal  corpse  by  cutting  it.  Whence  the  blood  imme- 
diately gushing  out  in  torrents,  shook  the  hearts  of  the  by- 
standers with  horror.  In  consequence  his  royal  remains 
were  placed  upon  the  altar  in  a  shrine,  which  he  had  him- 
self given  to  this  church,  with  the  head  of  St.  Apollinaris, 
and  the  relics  of  Vincent  the  martyr  ;  which  purchased,  at 
a  great  price,  he  had  added  to  the  beauty  of  the  house  of 
God.     The  violator  of  the  sacred  body  presently  became  dis- 

IG2  WILLIAM   OF   JIALMESBTJKY.  [b.  ii.  c.  9. 

tracted,  and  not  long  after,  going  out  of  the  church,  met  his 
death  by  a  broken  neck.  Nor  did  the  display  of  royal 
sanctity  stop  thus  ;  it  proceeded  still  further,  a  man,  lunatic 
and  blind,  being  there  cured.  Deservedly  then  does  the  re- 
port prevail  among  the  English,  that  no  king,  either  of  his 
own  or  former  times  in  England,  could  be  justly  and  fairly 
compared  to  Edgar  :  for  notliing  could  be  more  holy  than 
his  life,  nothing  more  praiseworthy  than  liis  justice;  those 
vices  excepted  which  he  afterwards  obliterated  by  abundant 
virtues  :  a  man  who  rendered  his  country  illustrious  through 
his  distinguished  courage,  and  the  brilliancy  of  his  actions, 
as  well  as  by  the  increase  of  the  servants  of  God.  After  his 
departure,  the  state  and  the  hopes  of  the  English  met  with 
a  melancholy  reverse.* 


Of  St.  Edward  king  and  martyr  the  son  of  Edgar.     [a.d.  975 — 978.] 

In  the  year  of  our  Lord  975,  Edward  the  son  of  Edgar  be- 
gan to  reign,  and  enjoyed  the  sovereignty  for  three  years 
and  a  half.  Dunstan,  in  common  consent  with  the  other 
bishops,  elevated  him  to  the  royal  dignity,  in  opposition,  as  it  is 
said,  to  the  will  of  some  of  the  nobility,  and  of  his  step- 
mother ;  who  was  anxious  to  advance  her  son  Ethelred,  a 
child  scarcely  seven  years  of  age,  in  order  that  herself  might 
govern  under  colour  of  his  name.  Then,  from  the  increasing 
malice  of  men,  the  happiness  of  the  kingdom  was  impaired  ; 
then  too,  comets  were  seen,  which  were  asserted  certainly 
to  portend  either  pestilence  to  the  inhabitants,  or  a  change  in 
the  government.  Nor  was  it  long  ere  there  followed  a 
scarcity  of  corn  ;  famine  among  men  ;  murrain  among  cattle ; 
and  an  extraordinary  accident  at  a  royal  town  called  Calne. 
For  as  soon  as  Edgar  was  dead,  the  secular  canons  who  had 
been  for  some  time  expelled  their  monasteries,  rekindled  the 
former  feuds,  alleging,  that  it  was  a  great  and  serious  dis- 
grace, for  new  comers  to  drive  the  ancient  inmates  from  their 
dwellings  ;  that  it  could  not  be  esteemed  grateful  to  God, 
who  had  granted  them  their  ancient  habitations  :  neither 
could  it  be  so  to  any  considerate  man,  who  might  dread  that 

*  Virg.  ^n.  ii.  169. 

A.D.  975-977  ]  COUNCIL  AT  CALNE.  163 

injustice  as  likely  to  befall  himself,  which  he  had  seen  over- 
take others.  Hence  they  proceeded  to  clamour  and  rage,  and 
hastened  to  Dunstan  ;  the  principal  people,  as  is  the  custom 
of  the  laity,  exclaiming  more  especially,  that  the  injury 
which  the  canons  had  wrongfully  suffered,  ought  to  be  re- 
dressed by  gentler  measures.  Moreover,  one  of  them,  Elfe- 
rius,  with  more  than  common  audacity,  had  even  overturned 
almost  all  the  monasteries  which  that  higlily  revered  monk 
Ethelwold,  bishop  of  Winchester,  had  built  throughout  Mer- 
cia.  On  this  account  a  full  synod  being  convened,  they  first 
assembled  at  Winchester.  What  was  the  issue  of  the  contest 
of  that  place,  other  writings  declare  ;*  relating,  that  the 
image  of  our  Saviour,  speaking  decidedly,  confounded  the 
canons  and  their  party.  But  men's  minds  being  not  yet  at 
rest  on  the  subject,  a  council  was  called  at  Calne  ;  where, 
when  all  the  senators  of  England,  the  king  being  absent  on 
account  of  his  youth,  had  assembled  in  an  upper  chamber, 
and  the  business  was  agitated  with  much  animosity  and  de- 
bate ;  while  the  weapons  of  harsh  reproach  were  directed 
against  that  firmest  bulwark  of  the  church,  I  mean  Dunstan, 
but  could  not  shake  it ;  and  men  of  every  rank  were  earnestly 
defending  their  several  sides  of  the  question  ;  the  floor  with 
its  beams  and  supporters  gave  way  suddenly  and  fell  to  the 
ground.  All  fell  with  it  except  Dunstan,  who  alone  escaped 
unhurt  by  standing  on  a  single  rafter  which  retained  its  posi- 
tion :  the  rest  were  either  killed,  or  subjected  to  lasting  in- 
firmity. This  miracle  procured  the  archbishop  peace  on  the 
score  of  the  canons  ;  all  the  English,  both  at  that  time  and 
afterwards,  yielding  to  his  sentiments. 

Meanwhile  king  Edward  conducted  liimself  with  becoming 
affection  to  his  infant  brother  and  his  step-mother ;  he  retained 
only  the  name  of  king,  and  gave  them  the  power  ;  following 
the  footsteps  of  his  father's  piety,  and  giving  both  his  attention 
and  his  heart  to  good  council.  The  woman,  however,  with 
that  hatred  which  a  step-mother  only  can  entertain,  began  to 
meditate  a  subtle  stratagem,  in  order  that  not  even  the  title 
of  king  might  be  wanting  to  her  child,  and  to  lay  a  treacher- 

*  When  the  question  was  agitated,  whether  the  monks  should  be  sup- 
ported or  the  canons  restored,  the  crucifix  is  said  to  have  exclaimed,  "  Far 
he  it  from  you  :  you  have  done  well ;  to  change  again  would  be  wrong." 
See  Edmer,  and  Osbeme,  Angl.  Sacra,  ii.  219,  112 


164  WILLIAM   OF    IVIALMESBURY.  [b.  n.  c.  9. 

0113  snare  for  her  son-in-law,  which  she  accomplished  in  the 
following  manner.  He  was  returning  home,  tired  with  the 
chas3  and  gasping  with  thirst  from  the  exercise,  while  his 
companions  were  following  the  dogs  in  different  directions 
as  it  happened,  when  hearing  that  they  dwelt  in  a  neighbour- 
ing mansion,  the  youth  proceeded  thither  at  full  speed,  un- 
attended and  unsuspecting,  as  he  judged  of  others  by  his  own 
feelings.  On  his  arrival,  alluring  him  to  her  with  female 
blandishment,  she  made  him  lean  forward,  and  after  saluting 
him  while  he  was  eagerly  drinking  from  the  cup  which  had  been 
presented,  the  dagger  of  an  attendant  pierced  him  through. 
Dreadfully  wounded,  with  all  his  remaining  strength  he 
clapped  spurs  to  his  horse  in  order  to  join  his  companions  ; 
when  one  foot  slipping,  he  was  dragged  by  the  other  through 
the  trackless  paths  and  recesses  of  the  wood,  while  the  stream- 
ing blood  gave  evidence  of  his  death  to  his  followers.  More- 
over, they  then  commanded  him  to  be  ingloriously  interred 
at  Wareham  ;  envying  him  even  holy  ground  when  dead,  as 
they  had  envied  him  his  royal  dignity  while  living.  They 
now  publicly  manifested  their  extreme  joy  as  if  they  had 
buried  his  memory  with  his  body  ;  but  God's  all-seeing  eye 
was  there,  who  ennobled  the  innocent  victim  by  the  glory 
of  miracles.  So  much  is  human  outweighed  by  heavenly 
judgment.  For  there  lights  were  shown  from  above  ;  there 
the  lame  walked  ;  there  the  dumb  resumed  his  fticulty  of 
speech  ;  there  every  malady  gave  way  to  health.  The  fame 
of  this  pervading  all  England,  proclaimed  the  merits  of  the 
martyr.  The  murderess  excited  by  it,  attempted  a  progress 
thither  ;  and  was  already  urging  forward  the  horse  slie  had 
mounted,  when  she  perceived  the  manifest  anger  of  God  ; 
for  the  same  creature  which  she  had  heretofore  constantly 
ridden,  and  which  was  used  to  outstrip  the  very  wind  in 
speed,  now  by  command  of  God,  stood  motionless.  The 
attendants,  both  with  whips  and  clamours,  urged  him  forward 
that  he  might  carry  his  noble  mistress  with  his  usual  readi- 
ness ;  but  their  labour  was  in  vain.  They  changed  the 
horse  ;  and  the  same  circumstance  recurred.  Her  obdurate 
heart,  though  late,  perceived  the  meaning  of  the  miracle  ; 
wherefore,  what  she  was  not  herself  permitted  to  do,  she 
suffered  to  be  performed  by  another  :  for  that  Elferius, 
whom  I  before  blamed  for  destroying  the  monasteries,  repent' 

A.D.  97S,  979.J  ETHELKED EDMUND.  165 

ing  of  his  rashness,  and  being  deeply  distressed  in  mind,  took 
up  the  sacred  corpse  from  its  unworthy  burial-place,  and  paid 
it  just  and  distinguished  honours  at  Shaftesbury.  He  did  not 
escape  unpunished,  however,  for,  within  a  year  afterwards, 
he  was  eaten  of  the  vermin  which  we  call  lice.  Moreover, 
since  a  mind  unregulated  is  a  torment  to  itself,  and  a  restless 
spirit  endures  its  own  peculiar  punishment  in  this  life,  Elf- 
thrida  declining  from  her  regal  pride,  became  extremely 
penitent ;  so  that  at  Werewell,  for  many  years,  she  clothed 
her  pampered  body  in  hair-cloth,  slept  at  night  upon  the 
ground  without  a  pillow  ;  and  mortified  her  flesh  with  every 
kind  of  penance.  She  was  a  beautiful  woman  ;  singularly 
faithful  to  her  husband  ;  but  deserving  punishment  from  the 
commission  of  so  great  a  crime.  It  is  believed  and  commonly 
reported,  that  from  her  violence  to  Edward,  the  country  for 
a  long  time  after  groaned  under  the  yoke  of  barbarian  ser- 

At  Shaftesbury,  truly  shines  a  splendid  proof  of  royal 
sanctity  ;  for  to  his  merit  must  it  be  attributed,  that  there  a 
numerous  choir  of  women  dedicated  to  God,  not  only  en- 
lighten those  parts  with  the  blaze  of  their  religion,  but  even 
reach  the  very  heavens.  There  reside  sacred  virgins  wholly 
unconscious  of  contamination,  there,  continent  widows,  igno- 
rant of  a  second  flame  after  the  extinction  of  the  first  ;  in  all 
whose  manner,  graceful  modesty  is  so  blended  with  chastened 
elegance,  that  nothing  can  exceed  it.  Indeed  it  is  matter 
of  doubt  which  to  applaud  most,  their  assiduity  in  the  service 
of  God  or  their  affability  in  their  converse  with  men  :  hence 
assent  is  justly  given  to  those  persons  who  say  that,  the  world, 
which  has  long  tottered  with  the  weight  of  its  sins,  is  entirely 
supported  by  their  prayers. 

CHAP.  X. 

Of  king  Ethelred  and  king  Edmund.     [a.d.  979—1017.] 

In  the  year  of  our  Lord's  incarnation  979,  Ethelred,  son  of 
Edgar  and  Elfthrida,  obtaining  the  kingdom,  occupied,  rather 
than  governed  it  for  thirty-seven  years.  The  career  of  his 
life  is  said  to  have  been  cruel  in  the  beginning,  wretched  in 
the  middle,  and  disgraceful  in  the  end.  Thus,  in  the  murder 
to  which  he  gave  his  concurrence,  he  was  cruel ;  base  in  his 

166  WILLIAM  OF  MALMESBURT.  [b.  ir.  c  10. 

flight,  and  eifeminacy  ;  miserable  in  his  death.  Dunstan, 
indeed,  had  foretold  his  worthlessness,  having  discovered  it 
by  a  very  filthy  token  :  for  when  quite  an  infant,  the  bishops 
standing  round,  as  he  was  immersed  in  the  baptismal  font, 
he  defiled  the  sacrament  by  a  natural  evacuation  :  at  which 
Dunstan,  being  extremely  angered,  exclaimed,  "By  Grod, 
and  his  mother,  this  will  be  a  sorry  fellow."  I  have  read, 
that  when  he  was  ten  years  of  age,  hearing  it  noised  abroad 
that  his  brother  was  killed,  he  so  irritated  his  furious  mother 
by  his  weeping,  that  not  having  a  whip  at  hand,  she  beat  the 
little  innocent  with  some  candles  she  had  snatched  up  :  nor 
did  she  desist,  till  herself  bedewed  him,  nearly  lifeless,  with  her 
tears.  On  this  account  he  dreaded  candles  during  the  rest  of 
his  life,  to  such  a  degree  that  he  would  never  suffer  the  light 
of  them  to  be  brought  into  his  presence.  The  nobility  being 
assembled  by  the  contrivance  of  his  mother,  and  the  day 
appointed  for  Dunstan,  in  right  of  his  see,  to  crown  him, 
he,  though  he  might  be  ill-affected  to  them,  forbore  to  resist, 
being  a  prelate  of  mature  age,  and  long  versed  in  secular 
matters.  But,  when  placing  the  crown  on  his  head  he  could 
not  refrain  from  giving  vent  Avith  a  loud  voice,  to  that  pro- 
phetic spirit  which  he  had  so  deeply  imbibed.  "  Since," 
said  he,  "  thou  hast  aspired  to  the  kingdom  by  the  death  of 
thy  brother,  hear  the  word  of  God  ;  thus  saith  the  Lord 
God:  the  sin  of  thy  abandoned  mother,  and  of  the  accom- 
plices of  her  base  design,  shall  not  be  washed  out  but  by 
much  blood  of  the  wretched  inhabitants ;  and  such  evils 
shall  come  upon  the  English  nation  as  they  have  never  suf- 
fered from  the  time  they  came  to  England  until  then."  Nor 
was  it  long  after,  that  is,  in  his  third  year,  that  seven  pirati- 
cal vessels  came  to  Southampton,  a  port  near  Winchester, 
and  having  ravaged  the  coast  fled  back  to  the  sea:  this  I 
think  right  to  mention  because  many  reports  are  circulated 
among  the  English,  concerning  these  vessels. 

A  quarrel  between  the  king  and  the  bishop  of  Rochester 
had  arisen  from  some  unknown  cause  ;  in  consequence  of 
which  he  led  an  army  against  that  city.  It  was  signified 
to  liim  by  the  archbishop,  that  he  should  desist  from  his 
fury,  and  not  irritate  St.  Andrew,  under  whose  guardian- 
ship that  bishopric  was ;  for  as  he  was  ever  ready  to  pardon, 
so  was  he  equally  formidable  to  avenge.     Tliis  simple  mes- 

A.D.  988-994.]  DUNSTAN*S   PROPHECY.  167 

sage  being  held  in  contempt,  he  graced  the  intimation  with 
money,  and  sent  him  a  hundred  pounds,  as  a  bribe,  that 
he  should  raise  the  siege  and  retire.  He  therefore  took  the 
money,  retreated,  and  dismissed  his  army.  Dunstan,  aston- 
ished at  his  avarice,  sent  messengers  to  him  with  the  follow- 
ing words,  "  Since  you  have  preferred  silver  to  God,  money 
to  the  apostle,  and  covetousness  to  me ;  the  evils  which  God 
has  pronounced  will  shortly  come  upon  you ;  but  they  will 
not  come  while  I  live,  for  this  also  hath  God  spoken."  Soon 
after  the  death  of  this  holy  man,  which  was  in  the  tenth 
year  of  his  reign,  the  predictions  speedily  began  to  be  ful- 
filled, and  the  prophecies  to  have  their  consummation.  For 
the  Danes  infested  every  port,  and  made  descents  on  all 
sides  with  great  activity,  so  that  it  was  not  known  where 
they  could  be  opposed.  But  Siric,  the  second  archbishop 
after  Dunstan,  advised  that  money  should  repel  those  whom 
the  sword  could  not :  thus  a  payment  of  ten  thousand  pounds 
satisfied  the  avarice  of  the  Danes.  This  was  an  infamous 
precedent,  and  totally  unworthy  the  character  of  men,  to 
redeem  liberty,  which  no  violence  can  ever  extirpate  from 
a  noble  mind,  by  money.  They  now  indeed  abstained  a 
short  time  from  their  incursions  ;  but  as  soon  as  their 
strength  was  recruited  by  rest,  they  returned  to  their  old 
practices.  Such  extreme  fear  had  seized  the  Enghsh,  that 
there  was  no  thought  of  resistance :  if  any  indeed,  mindful 
of  their  ancient  glory,  made  an  attempt  to  oppose,  or  engage 
them,  they  were  unsuccessful,  from  the  multitude  of  their 
enemies,  and  the  desertion  of  their  alhes.  The  leader  of 
revolt  was  one  Elfric,  whom  the  king  had  appointed  to 
command  the  fleet:  he,  instead  of  trying  his  fortune,  as  he 
ought,  in  a  naval  conflict,  went  over,  on  the  night  preceding 
the  battle,  a  base  deserter  to  the  enemy,  whom  he  had  ap- 
prised, by  messengers,  what  preparations  to  make ;  and 
though  the  king,  for  this  perfidious  crime,  ordered  his 
son's  eyes  to  be  put  out,  yet  he  returned  again,  and  again 
deserted.  All  Northumbria  being  laid  waste,  the  enemy 
was  met  in  battle  and  worsted.  London  was  besieged,  but 
honourably  defended  by  its  citizens.  In  consequence,  the 
besiegers,  after  suffering  severely  and  despairing  of  taking 
the  city,  retired ;  and  devastating  the  whole  province  to  the 
eastward,    compelled   the   king   to   pay   a   sum   of    money. 

168  WILLIAM   OF    MALMESBURY.  [b.  n.  c.  10. 

amounting  to  sixteen  thousand  pounds.  Moreover,  host- 
ages being  given,  he  caused  their  king  Anlaf  to  come  to 
him,  stood  for  him  at  the  font,  and  soothing  him  with  royal 
munificence,  bound  him  by  an  oath  that  he  should  never 
return  into  England  again.  The  evil  however  was  not  thus 
put  to  rest.  For  they  could  never  provide  against  their 
enemies  from  Denmark,  springing  up  afresh,  like  the  heads 
of  the  hydra.  The  province  in  the  west  of  England,  called 
Devonshire,  was  laid  waste ;  the  monasteries  destroyed ;  and 
the  city  of  Exeter  set  on  fire :  Kent  was  given  up  to  plun- 
der ;  the  metropolitan  city  and  seat  of  the  patriarchs,  burnt ; 
the  holy  patriarch  himself,  the  most  reverend  Elphege,  carried 
away  and  bound  in  chains :  and  at  last,  when  required  to 
plunder  his  tenants  in  order  to  ransom  himself,  and  refusing 
to  do  so,  he  was  stoned,  struck  with  a  hatchet,  and  glorified 
heaven  with  his  soul.  After  he  was  murdered,  God  exalted 
him ;  insomuch,  that  when  the  Danes,  who  had  been  instru- 
mental to  his  death,  saw  that  dead  wood  besmeared  with  his 
blood  miraculously  grew  green  again  in  one  night,  they  ran 
eagerly  to  kiss  his  remains,  and  to  bear  them  on  their  shoul- 
ders. Thus  they  abated  their  usual  pride,  and  suifered  his 
sacred  corpse  to  be  carried  to  London.  There  it  was  honor- 
ably buried ;  and  when  taken  up,  ten  years  afterwards,  free 
from  every  taint  of  corruption,  it  conferred  honour  on  his 
cathedral  at  Canterbury.*  To  the  present  moment  both  its 
blood  remains  fresh,  and  its  soundness  unimpaired,  and  it  is 
considered  a  miracle,  that  a  carcass  should  be  divested  of 
life,  and  yet  not  decay.  That  I  may  not  be  tedious  in 
mentioning  severally  all  the  provinces  which  the  Danes 
laid  waste,  let  it  be  briefly  understood,  that  out  of  thirty- 
two  counties,  which  are  reckoned  in  England,  they  had  al- 
ready overrun  sixteen;  the  names  of  which  I  forbear  to 
enumerate  on  account  of  the  harshness  of  the  language. 
In  the  meantime,  the  king,  admirably  calculated  for  sleep- 
ing, did  nothing  but  postpone  and  hesitate,  and  if  ever  he 
recovered  his  senses  enough  to  raise  himself  upon  liis  elbow, 
he  quickly  relapsed  into  his  original  wretchedness,  either 
from  the  oppression  of  indolence,  or  the  adverseness  of  for- 
tune. His  brother's  ghost  also,  demanding  dire  expiation, 
tormented  him.  Who  can  tell  how  often  he  collected  his 
*  The  life  of  Elphege,  by  Osberne,  is  in  the  Anglia  Sacra,  ii.  122. 

A.o.  1012.]  TEEACHERT   OF    EDRIC.  169 

army  ?  how  often  he  ordered  ships  to  be  built  ?  how  fre- 
quently he  called  out  commanders  from  all  quarters  ?  and 
yet  nothing  was  ever  effected.  For  the  army,  destitute  of 
a  leader  and  ignorant  of  military  discipline,  either  retreated 
before  it  came  into  action,  or  else  was  easily  overcome. 
The  presence  of  the  leader  is  of  much  avail  in  battle  ; 
courage  manifested  by  liim  avails  also ;  experience,  and 
more  especially,  discipline  avail  much ;  and  as  I  have  said, 
the  want  of  these,  in  an  army,  must  be  an  irreparable  in- 
jury to  its  countrymen,  as  well  as  a  pitiable  object  of  con- 
tempt to  an  enemy.  For  soldiers  are  a  kind  of  men,  who, 
if  not  restrained  before  the  battle,  are  eager  to  plunder ;  and 
if  not  animated  during  it,  are  prone  to  flight.  When  the 
ships,  built  for  the  defence  of  the  sea-coast,  were  lying  at 
anchor,  a  tempest  suddenly  arising  dashed  them  together,  and 
rendered  them  useless  by  the  destruction  of  their  tackling : 
a  few,  fitted  from  the  wrecks  of  the  others,  were,  by  the 
attack  of  one  Wulnod,  whom  the  king  had  banished,  either 
sunk,  or  burnt,  and  consequently  disappointed  the  expecta- 
tions of  all  England.  The  commanders,  if  ever  they  met 
to  confer,  immediately  chose  difierent  sides,  and  rarely  or 
never  united  in  one  good  plan  ;  for  they  gave  more  attention 
to  private  quarrels,  than  to  public  exigences :  and,  if  in  the 
midst  of  pressing  danger,  they  had  resolved  on  any  eligible 
secret  design,  it  was  immediately  communicated  to  the  Danes 
by  traitors.  For  besides  Elfric,  the  successor  of  Elfere  who 
had  murdered  the  late  king,  there  was  one  Edric,  a  man 
infamously  skilled  in  such  transactions,  whom  the  king  had 
made  governor  of  the  Mercians.  This  fellow  was  the  re- 
fuse of  mankind,  the  reproach  of  the  English ;  an  abandoned 
glutton,  a  cunning  miscreant ;  who  had  become  opulent,  not 
by  nobility,  but  by  specious  language  and  impudence.  This 
artful  dissembler,  capable  of  feigning  anytliing,  was  accus- 
tomed, by  pretended  fidelity,  to  scent  out  the  king's  designs, 
that  he  might  treacherously  divulge  them.  Often,  when 
despatched  to  the  enemy  as  the  mediator  of  peace,  he  in- 
flamed them  to  battle.  His  perfidy  was  sufiiciently  con- 
spicuous in  this  king's  reign,  but  much  more  so  in  the  next ; 
of  which  I  shall  have  occasion  to  speak  hereafter.  Ulf kytel, 
earl  of  the  East  Angles,  was  the  only  person  who,  at  that 
time,  resisted  the  invaders  with  any  degree  of  spirit;  iuso- 

170  i\t:lliam:  of-  malmesbukt.  [b.  h.  c.  lo. 

mucli  that  although  the  enemy  had  nominally  the  victory, 
yet  the  conquerors  suffered  much  more  than  the  conquered  :* 
nor  were  the  barbarians  ashamed  to  confess  this  truth,  while 
they  so  frequently  bewailed  that  victory.  The  valour  of  the 
earl  was  more  conspicuously  eminent,  after  the  death  of 
Ethelred,  in  that  battle  which  mowed  down  the  whole  flower 
of  the  province;  where,  when  he  was  surrounded  from  the 
rear,  deeming  it  disgraceful  to  fly,  he  gave  fresh  confidence 
to  the  king  by  his  blood  ;  but  this  happened  some  time 
after.j  At  this  juncture,  that  the  measure  of  king  Ethelred's 
misery  might  be  full,  a  famine  ravaged  all  England,  and 
those  whom  war  had  spared  perished  from  want.  The 
enemy  over-ran  the  country  with  such  freedom,  that  they 
would  carry  off  their  booty  to  their  ships  through  a  space  of 
fifty  miles,  without  fearing  any  resistance  from  the  inhabit- 
ants. In  the  midst  of  these  pressing  evils,  the  expedient  of 
buying  off  hostilities  by  money  was  again  debated  and 
adopted ;  for  first  twenty-four,  and  soon  after,  thirty  thou- 
sand pounds  were  given  to  the  Danes :  with  what  advantage, 
succeeding  times  will  show.  To  me,  indeed,  deeply  reflect- 
ing upon  the  subject,  it  seems  wonderful,  how  a  man,  as  we 
have  been  taught  to  suppose,  neither  very  foolish,  nor  exces- 
sively heartless,  should  pass  his  life  in  the  wretched  en- 
durance of  so  many  calamities.  Should  any  one  ask  me  the 
reason  of  this,  I  could  not  easily  answer,  except  by  saying, 
that  the  revolt  of  the  generals  proceeded  from  the  haughti- 
ness of  the  king.  Their  perfidy  has  been  spoken  of  before : 
I  now  hasten  to  instances  of  his  violence,  which  was  so 
intolerable,  that  he  spared  not  even  his  own  relations.  For, 
besides  the  English,  whom  he  despoiled  of  their  hereditary 
possessions  without  any  cause,  or  defrauded  of  their  property 
for  supposititious  crimes:  besides  the  Danes,  whom,  from 
light  suspicion  only,  he  ordered  to  be  all  butchered  on  the 
same  day  throughout  England ;  which  was  a  dreadful  spec- 
tacle to  behold;  each  one  compelled  to  betray  his  dearest 
guests,  now  become  dearer  from  the  tenderest  connexions  of 

*  Ulfkytel  attacked  the  Danes  near  Thetford,  a.d.  1004,  and  though 
compelled  to  retreat,  yet  occasioned  so  severe  a  loss  to  the  enemy,  that 
they  are  said  to  have  acknowledged  that  they  had  never  endured  a  more 
powerful  attack.     See  Flor.  Wigorn.,  and  the  Saxon  Chronicle,  a.d.  1004. 

f  At  Assingdon  in  Essex,  a.d.  lOlG. 

A.D.  991.]  EPISTLE    OF    POPE    JOHN   XY.  171 

affiiiitj-,  and  to  cut  sliort  tlieir  embraces  with  the  sword :  yet 
besides  all  this,  I  say,  he  was  so  inconstant  towards  his  wife, 
that  he  scarcely  deigned  her  his  bed,  and  degraded  the  royal 
dignity  by  his  intercourse  with  harlots.  She  too,  a  woman, 
conscious  of  her  high  descent,  became  indignant  at  her  hus- 
band, as  she  found  herself  endeared  to  him  neither  by  her 
blameless  modesty  nor  her  fruitfulness ;  for  she  had  borne 
him  two  children,  Elfred  and  Edward.  She  was  the  daugh- 
ter of  Richard,  earl  of  Normandy,  the  son  of  William,  who, 
after  his  father,  presided  over  that  earldom  for  fifty-two 
years,  and  died  in  the  twenty-eighth  year  of  this  king.  He 
lies  at  the  monastery  of  Fescamp,  which  he  augmented  with 
certain  revenues,  and  which  he  adorned  with  a  monastic 
order,  by  means  of  William,  formerly  abbat  of  Dijon.  Rich- 
ard was  a  distinguished  character,  and  had  also  often 
harassed  Ethelred :  which,  when  it  became  known  at  Rome, 
the  holy  see,  not  enduring  that  two  Christians  should  be  at 
enmity,  sent  Leo,  bishop  of  Treves,  into  England,  to  restore 
peace :  the  epistle  describing  this  legation  was  as  follows : — 
"  John  the  fifteenth,  pope  of  the  holy  Roman  church,  to 
all  ftiithful  people,  health.  Be  it  known  to  all  the  faithful  of 
the  holy  mother  church,  and  our  children  spiritual  and  secu- 
lar, dispersed  through  the  several  climates  of  the  world,  that 
inasmuch  as  we  had  been  informed  by  many  of  the  enmity 
between  Ethelred,  king  of  the  West- Saxons,  and  Richard 
the  marquis,  and  were  grieved  sorely  at  this,  on  account  of 
our  spiritual  chikben ;  taking,  therefore,  wholesome  counsel, 
we  summoned  one  of  our  legates,  Leo,  bishop  of  the  holy 
church  of  Treves,  and  sent  him  with  our  letters,  admonish- 
ing them,  that  they  should  return  from  their  ungodliness. 
He,  passing  vast  spaces,  at  length  crossed  the  sea,  and,  on 
the  day  of  the  Lord's  nativity,  came  into  the  presence  of  the 
said  king ;  whom,  having  saluted  on  our  part,  he  delivered 
to  him  the  letters  we  had  sent.  And  all  the  faithful  people 
of  liis  kingdom,  and  senators  of  either  order,  being  sum- 
moned, he  granted,  for  love  and  fear  of  God  Almighty,  and 
of  St.  Peter,  the  chief  of  the  apostles,  and  on  account  of  our 
paternal  admonition,  the  firmest  peace  for  all  his  sons  and 
daughters,  present  and  future,  and  all  his  faithful  people, 
without  deceit.  On  which  account  he  sent  Edelsin,  prelate 
of  the  holy  church  of  Sherborne,  and  Leofstan,  son  of  Alf- 

172  WILLIAM   OF    MALMESBURY,  [b  ii.  c.  10. 

wold,  and  Edelnoth,  son  of  Wulstan,  who  passed  the  mari- 
time boundaries,  and  came  to  Richard,  the  said  marquis. 
He,  peaceably  receiving  our  admonitions,  and  hearing  the 
determination  of  the  said  king,  readily  confirmed  the  peace 
for  his  sons  and  daughters,  present  and  future,  and  for  all 
his  faithful  people,  with  this  reasonable  condition,  that  if  any 
of  their  subjects,  or  they  themselves,  should  commit  any 
injustice  against  each  other,  it  should  be  duly  redressed;  and 
that  peace  should  remain  for  ever  unshaken  and  confirmed 
by  the  oath  of  both  parties :  on  the  part  of  king  Ethelred,  to 
wit,  Edelsin,  prelate  of  the  holy  church  of  Sherborne;  Leof- 
stan,  the  son  of  Alfwold ;  Edelnoth,  the  son  of  Wulstan.  On 
the  part  of  Richard,  Roger,  the  bishop;  Rodolph,  son  of 
Hugh ;  Truteno,  the  son  of  Thurgis. 

*'  Done  at  Rouen,  on  the  kalends  of  March,  in  the  year  of 
our  Lord  991,  the  fourth  of  the  indiction.  Moreover,  of  the 
king's  subjects,  or  of  his  enemies,  let  Richard  receive  none, 
nor  the  king  of  his,  without  their  respective  seals." 

After  the  death  of  this  John,  Gregory  succeeded ;  after 
whom  came  John  XVI. ;  then  Silvester,  also  called  G-erbert, 
about  whom  it  will  not  be  absurd,  in  my  opinion,  if  I  com- 
mit to  writing  those  facts  which  are  generally  related  about 
him.*  Born  in  Gaul,  from  a  lad  he  grew  up  a  monk  at 
Flory;  afterwards,  when  he  arrived  at  the  double  path  of 
Pythagoras,!  either  disgusted  at  a  monastic  life  or  seized  by 
lust  of  glory,  he  fled  by  night  into  Spain,  chiefly  designing 
to  learn  astrology  and  other  sciences  of  that  description  from 
the  Saracens.  Spain,  formerly  for  many  years  possessed  by 
the  Romans,  in  the  time  of  the  emperor  Honorius,  fell  under 
the  power  of  the  Goths.  The  Goths  were  Arians  down  to 
the  days  of  St.  Gregory,  when  that  people  were  united  to 
the  Catholic  church  by  Leander  bishop  of  Seville,  and  by 
king  Recared,  brother  of  Hermengildus,J  whom  his  father 

*  In  several  of  the  manuscripts  there  is  an  omission  of  several  words 
which  has  made  nonsense  of  the  whole  paragraph.  Its  restoration  is  due 
to  Mr.  Hardy,  in  whose  edition  of  William  of  Malmesbury  it  is  given  cor- 
rectly from  MS.  authority. 

+  That  is,  when  he  had  attained  that  age  when  a  man  settles,  or  chooses 
his  future  line  of  conduct ;  or,  to  years  of  discretion.  This  Pythagoras  re- 
presented by  the  form  of  the  letter  Y,  or  the  Greek  gamma. 

X  Hermenegild  the  eldest  son  of  Leovigild.     He  was  invested  by  hia 


slew  on  Easter  night  for  professing  the  true  faith.  To  Lean- 
der  succeeded  Isidore,*  celebrated  for  learning  and  sanctity, 
whose  body  purchased,  for  its  weight  in  gold,  Aldefonsus 
king  of  Gallicia  in  our  times  conveyed  to  Toledo.  The  Sa- 
racens, who  had  subjugated  the  Goths,  being  conquered  in 
their  turn  by  Charles  the  Great,  lost  GaUicia  and  Lusitania, 
the  largest  provinces  of  Spain  ;  but  to  this  day  they  possess 
the  southern  parts.  As  the  Christians  esteem  Toledo,  so  do 
they  hold  Hispalis,  which  in  common  they  call  Seville,  to  be 
the  capital  of  the  kingdom ;  there  practising  divinations  and 
incantations,  after  the  usual  mode  of  that  nation.  Gerbert 
then,  as  I  have  related,  coming  among  these  people,  satisfied 
his  desires.  There  he  surpassed  Ptolemy  with  the  astrolabe, f 
and  Alcandraeus  in  astronomy,  and  Julius  Firmicus  in  judi- 
cial astrology ;  there  he  learned  what  the  singing  and  the 
flight  of  birds  portended ;  there  he  acquired  the  art  of  call- 
ing up  spirits  from  hell :  in  short,  whatever,  hurtful  or  salu- 
tary, human  curiosity  has  discovered.  There  is  no  necessity 
to  speak  of  his  progress  in  the  lawful  sciences  of  arithmetic 
and  astronomy,  music  and  geometry,  which  he  imbibed  so 
thoroughly  as  to  show  they  were  beneath  his  talents,  and 
wliich,  with  great  perseverance,  he  revived  in  Gaul,  where 
they  had  for  a  long  time  been  wholly  obsolete.  Being  cer- 
tainly the  first  who  seized  on  the  abacus  J  from  the  Saracens, 

father  with  the  royal  diadem  and  the  principality  of  Boetica,  and  contracted 
an  alliance  with  Ingnndis,  daughter  of  vSigebert,  king  of  Austrasia.  Ingun  - 
dis  was  persecuted,  and  at  length  killed  by  her  husband's  mother,  on 
account  of  her  Catholic  faith.  Leander,  archbishop  of  Seville,  easily  per- 
suaded Hermenegild  to  resent  the  treatment  of  his  bride,  and  assisted  him 
in  an  attempt  to  dethrone  his  father.  Hermenegild  was  taken  and  sen- 
tenced to  death  for  his  rebellion.  The  inflexible  constancy,  with  which  he 
refused  to  accept  the  Arian  communion,  from  which  he  had  been  con- 
verted by  Leander,  as  the  price  of  his  safety,  procured  for  him  the  honour 
of  being  enrolled  among  the  saints  of  the  Romish  church. — Hardy. 

•  Isidore  was  bishop  of  Seville  in  the  sixth  century. 

f  An  instrument  for  making  celestial  observations.  The  reader  who  is 
conversant  with  the  Arabian  Nights'  Entertainments  will  remember  its  be- 
ing frequently  mentioned  in  that  amusing  book. 

t  The  abacus  was  a  counting  table  :  here  it  seems  used  metaphorically 
for  arithmetic,  Gerbert  having  written  a  treatise  on  arithmetic  ^vith  that  title. 
The  authors  of  the  Hist.  Litt.  de  la  France,  t.  vi.  understand  him  literally,  n« 
stealing  a  book  containing  the  principles  of  the  science,  and  then  con- 
found this  supposed  book  with  the  conjuring  treatise  mentioned  below. 
They  also  seem  very  much  displeased  with  Malmesbury  for  relating  these 

174  WILLIAM  OF  MALMESBURT.  [b.  ii.  c.  10. 

he  gave  rules  which  are  scarcely  understood  even  by  laborious 
computers.  He  resided  with  a  certain  philosopher  of  that 
sect,  whose  good  will  he  had  obtained,  first  by  great  liberal- 
ity, and  then  by  promises.  The  Saracen  had  no  objection  to 
sell  his  knowledge ;  he  frequently  associated  with  him ; 
would  talk  with  him  of  matters  at  times  serious,  at  others 
trivial,  and  lend  him  books  to  transcribe.  There  was  how- 
ever one  volume,  containing  the  knowledge  of  his  whole  art, 
which  he  could  never  by  any  means  entice  him  to  lend.  In 
consequence  Gerbert  was  inflamed  with  anxious  desire  to 
obtain  this  book  at  any  rate,  "  for  we  ever  press  more  eagerly 
towards  what  is  forbidden,  and  that  which  is  denied  is  always 
esteemed  most  valuable."*  Trying,  therefore,  the  effect  of 
entreaty,  he  besought  him  for  the  love  of  God,  and  by  his 
friendship;  offered  him  many  things,  and  promised  him 
more.  When  this  failed  he  tried  a  nocturnal  stratagem. 
He  plied  him  with  wine,  and,  with  the  help  of  his  daughter, 
who  connived  at  the  attempt  through  the  intimacy  which 
Gerbert's  attentions  had  procured,  stole  the  book  from  under 
his  pillow  and  fled.  Waking  suddenly,  the  Saracen  pursued 
the  fugitive  by  the  direction  of  the  stars,  in  which  art  he 
was  well  versed.  The  fugitive  too,  looking  back,  and  disco- 
vering his  danger  by  means  of  the  same  art,  hid  himself  under 
a  wooden  bridge  which  was  near  at  hand ;  clinging  to  it,  and 
hanging  in  such  a  manner  as  neither  to  touch  earth  nor 
water. I  In  this  manner  the  eagerness  of  the  pursuer  being 
eluded,  he  returned  home.  Gerbert,  then  quickening  his 
pace,  arrived  at  the  sea-coast.  Here,  by  his  incantations,  he 
called  up  the  devil,  and  made  an  agreement  with  him  to  be 
under  his  dominion  for  ever,  if  he  would  defend  him  from 
the  Saracen,  who  was  again  pursuing,  and  transport  him  to 
the  opposite  coast :  this  was  accordingly  done. 

Probably  some  may  regard  all  this  as  a  fiction,  because 
the  vulgar  are  used  to  undermine  the  fame  of  scholars,  say- 
ing that  the  man  who  excels  in  any  admirable  science,  holds 
converse  with  the  devil.     Of  this,  Boethius,  in  his  book.  On 

tales  of  their  countryman,  and  attribute  them  to  cardinal  Benno  ;  but  there 
is  nothing  of  this  kind  in  his  work  published  by  Goldastus,  and  in  Brown's 
Fasciculus,  t.  i. 

*  Ovid.  Amor.  iii.  iv.  17. 

t  This  was  perhaps  a  necessary  precaution,  according  to  the  rules  of  the 
necromantic  art. 

A.D.  1002. j  ROBERT,  KING  OF  FRANCE.  175 

the  Consolation  of  Philosophy,  complains ;  and  affirms,  that 
he  had  the  discredit  of  such  practices  on  account  of  his 
ardent  love  of  literature,  as  if  he  had  polluted  his  knowledge 
by  detestable  arts  for  the  sake  of  ambition.  "  It  was  hardly 
likely,"  says  he,  "  that  I,  whom  you  dress  up  with  such  ex- 
cellence as  almost  to  make  me  like  God,  should  catch  at  the 
protection  of  the  vilest  spirits ;  but  it  is  in  this  point  that 
we  approach  nearest  to  a  connection  with  them,  in  that  we 
are  instructed  in  your  learning,  and  educated  in  your  cus- 
toms." So  far  Boethius.  The  singular  choice  of  his  death 
confirms  me  in  the  belief  of  liis  league  with  the  devil ;  else, 
when  dying,  as  we  shall  relate  hereafter,  why  should  he, 
gladiator-like,  maim  his  own  person,  unless  conscious  of  some 
unusual  crime  ?  Accordingly,  in  an  old  volume,  which  acci- 
dentally fell  into  my  hands,  wherein  the  names  and  years  of 
all  the  popes  are  entered,  I  found  written  to  the  following 
purport,  "  Silvester,  who  was  also  called  Gerbert,  ten  months ; 
this  man  made  a  shameful  end." 

Gerbert,  returning  into  Gaul,  became  a  public  professor  in 
the  schools,  and  had  as  brother  pliilosophers  and  companions 
of  his  studies,  Constantine,  abbat  of  the  monastery  of  St. 
Maximin,  near  Orleans,  to  whom  he  addressed  the  Rules  of 
the  Abacus  ;*  and  Ethelbald  bishop,  as  they  say,  of  Winte- 
burg,  who  himself  gave  proof  of  ability,  in  a  letter  which 
he  wrote  to  Gerbert,  on  a  question  concerning  the  diameter 
in  Macrobius,!  and  in  some  other  points.  He  had  as  pupils, 
of  exquisite  talents  and  noble  origin,  Robert,  son  of  Hugh 
surnamed  Capet ;  and  Otho,  son  of  the  emperor  Otho.  Ro- 
bert, afterwards  king  of  France,  made  a  suitable  return  to 
his  master,  and  appointed  him  archbishop  of  Rheims.  In 
that  church  are  still  extant,  as  proofs  of  his  science,  a  clock 
constructed  on  mechanical  principles:  and  an  hydraulic 
organ,  in  which  the  air  escaping  in  a  surprising  manner,  by 
the  force  of  heated  water,  fills  the  cavity  of  the  instrument, 
and  the  brazen  pipes  emit  modulated  tones  through  the  mul- 
tifarious apertures.  The  king  himself,  too,  was  well  skilled 
in  sacred  music,  and  in  this  and  many  other  respects,  a  libe- 
ral benefactor  to  the  church  :  moreover,  he  composed  that 
beautiful  sequence,  "  The  grace  of  the  Holy  Spirit  be  with 

*  His  treatise  so  called.  t  Macrob.  in  Somn.  Scip.  i.  20. 

176  WILLIAM  OF  MALMESBURY.  [b.  ii.  c.  10 

US  ;"  and  the  response,  "  He  hath  joined  together  Judah  and 
Jerusalem ;"  together  with  more,  which  I  should  have  plea- 
sure in  relating,  were  it  not  irksome  to  others  to  hear.  Otho, 
emperor  of  Italy  after  his  father,  made  Gerbert  archbishop 
of  Ravenna,  and  finally  Roman  pontiff.  He  followed  up  his 
fortune  so  successfully  by  the  assistance  of  the  devil,  that  he 
left  nothing  unexecuted  which  he  had  once  conceived.  The 
treasures  formerly  buried  by  the  inhabitants,  he  disco- 
vered by  the  art  of  necromancy,  and  removing  the  rubbish, 
applied  to  his  own  lusts.  Thus  viciously  disposed  are  the 
wicked  towards  God,  and  thus  they  abuse  his  patience, 
though  he  had  rather  that  they  repent  than  perish.  At  last, 
he  found  where  his  master  would  stop,  and  as  the  proverb 
says,  "  in  the  same  manner  as  one  crow  picks  out  another 
crow's  eyes,"  while  endeavouring  to  oppose  his  "attempts  with 
art  like  his  own. 

There  was  a  statue  in  the  Campus  Martins  near  Rome,  I 
know  not  whether  of  brass  or  iron,  having  the  forefinger  of  the 
right  hand  extended,  and  on  the  head  was  written,  "  Strike 
here."  The  men  of  former  times  supposing  this  should  be 
understood  as  if  they  might  find  a  treasure  there,  had  bat- 
tered the  harmless  statute  by  repeated  strokes  of  a  hatchet. 
But  Gerbert  convicted  them  of  error  by  solving  the  problem 
in  a  very  different  manner.  Marking  where  the  shadow  of 
the  finger  fell  at  noon-day,  when  the  sun  was  on  the  meridian, 
he  there  placed  a  post ;  and  at  night  proceeded  thither,  attended 
only  by  a  servant  carrying  a  lanthorn.  The  earth  opening 
by  means  of  his  accustomed  arts,  displayed  to  them  a  spacious 
entrance.  They  see  before  them  a  vast  palace  with  golden 
walls,  golden  roofs,  every  thing  of  gold  ;  golden  soldiers 
amusing  themselves,  as  it  were,  with  golden  dice  ;  a  king  of 
the  same  metal,  at  table  with  his  queen ;  delicacies  set  before 
them,  and  servants  waiting  ;  vessels  of  great  weight  and 
value,  where  the  sculpture  surpassed  nature  herself  In  the 
inmost  part  of  the  mansion,  a  carbuncle  of  the  first  quality, 
though  small  in  appearance,  dispelled  the  darkness  of  night. 
In  the  opposite  corner  stood  a  boy,  holding  a  bow  bent, 
and  the  arrow  drawn  to  the  head.  While  the  exquisite 
art  of  every  thing  ravished  the  eyes  of  the  spectators, 
there  was  nothing  which  might  be  handled  though  it  might 
be  seen  :  for  immediately,  if  any  one  stretched  forth  his  hand 

AD  10C2.J  POPE    SILVESTER.  177 

to  touch  any  thing,  all  these  figures  appeared  to  rush  forward 
and  repel  such  presumption.  Alarmed  at  this,  Gerbert  re- 
jtressed  his  inclination  :  but  not  so  the  servant.  He  en- 
deavoured to  snatch  off  from  a  table,  a  knife  of  admirable 
workmanship  ;  supposing  that  in  a  booty  of  such  magnitude, 
so  small  a  theft  could  hardly  be  discovered.  In  an  instant, 
the  figures  all  starting  up  with  loud  clamour,  the  boy  let  fly 
his  arrow  at  the  carbuncle,  and  in  a  moment  all  was  in  dark- 
ness ;  and  if  the  servant  had  not,  by  the  advice  of  his  master, 
made  the  utmost  despatch  in  throwing  back  the  knife,  they 
would  have  both  suffered  severely.  In  this  manner,  their 
boundless  avarice  unsatiated,  they  departed,  the  lantern 
directing  their  steps.  That  he  performed  such  things  by  un- 
lawful devices  is  the  generally  received  opinion.  Yet,  how- 
ever, if  any  one  diligently  investigate  the  truth,  he  will  see 
that  even  Solomon,  to  whom  God  himself  had  given  wisdom, 
was  not  ignorant  of  these  arts  :  for,  as  Josephus  relates,*  he, 
in  conjunction  with  his  father,  buried  vast  treasures  in  coffers, 
which  were  hidden,  as  he  says,  in  a  kind  of  necromantic 
manner,  under  ground :  neither  was  Hyrcanus,  celebrated 
for  his  skill  in  prophecy  and  his  valour ;  who,  to  ward  off 
the  distress  of  a  siege,  dug  up,  by  the  same  art,  three  thousand 
talents  of  gold  from  the  sepulchre  of  David,  and  gave  part 
of  them  to  the  besiegers ;  with  the  remainder  building  an 
hospital  for  the  reception  of  strangers.  But  Herod,  who 
would  make  an  attempt  of  the  same  kind,  with  more  pre- 
sumption than  knowledge,  lost  in  consequence  many  of  his 
attendants,  by  an  eruption  of  internal  fire.  Besides,  when 
I  hear  the  Lord  Jesus  saying,  "  My  father  worketh  hitherto, 
and  I  work  ;"  I  believe,  that  He,  who  gave  to  Solomon  power 
over  demons  to  such  a  degree,  as  the  same  historian  declares, 
that  he  relates  there  were  men,  even  in  his  time,  who  could 
eject  them  from  persons  possessed,  by  applying  to  the  nostrils 
of  the  patient  a  ring  having  the  impression  pointed  out  by 
Solomon :  I  believe,  I  say,  that  he  could  give,  also,  the  same 
science  to  this  man  :  but  I  do  not  affirm  that  he  did  give  it. 

But  leaving  these  matters  to  my  readers,  I  shall  relate 
what  I  recollect  having  heard,  when  I  was  a  boy,  from  a  cer- 
tain monk  of  our  house,   a  native  of  Aquitaine,  a  man  in 

*  JosephuB  Antiq.  Jud.  1.  %ai.  c.  15.  viii.  2. 

178  WILLIAM    OF    MALMESBURY.  [b.  it.  c.  10. 

years,  and  a  physician  by  profession.  "  When  I  was  seven 
years  old,"  said  he,  "  despising  the  mean  circumstances  of  my 
father,  a  poor  citizen  of  Barcelona,  I  surmounted  the  snowy 
Alps,  and  went  into  Italy.  There,  as  was  to  be  expected  in  a 
boy  of  that  age,  having  to  seek  my  daily  bread  in  great  distress, 
I  paid  more  attention  to  the  food  of  my  mind  than  of  my 
body.  As  I  grew  up  I  eagerly  viewed  many  of  the  wonders 
of  that  country  and  impressed  them  on  my  memory.  Among 
others  I  saw  a  perforated  mountain,  beyond  which  the  in- 
habitants supposed  the  treasures  of  Octavian  were  hidden. 
Many  persons  were  reported  to  have  entered  into  these 
caverns  for  the  purpose  of  exploring  them,  and  to  have  there 
perished,  being  bewildered  by  the  intricacy  of  the  ways.  But, 
as  hardly  any  apprehension  can  restrain  avaricious  minds 
from  their  intent,  I,  with  my  companions,  about  twelve  in 
number,  meditated  an  expedition  of  this  nature,  either  for 
the  sake  of  plunder,  or  through  curiosity.  Imitating  there- 
fore the  ingenuity  of  Daedalus,  who  brought  Theseus  out  of 
the  labyrinth  by  a  conducting  clue,  we,  also  carrying  a  large 
ball  of  thread,  fixed  a  small  post  at  the  entrance.  Tying  the 
end  of  the  thread  to  it,  and  lighting  lanterns,  lest  dark- 
ness, as  well  as  intricacy,  should  obstruct  us,  we  unrolled  the 
clue  ;  and  fixing  a  post  at  every  mile,  we  proceeded  on  our 
journey  along  the  caverns  of  the  mountain,  in  the  best 
manner  we  were  able.  Every  thing  was  dark,  and  full  of 
horrors  ;  the  bats,  flitting  from  holes,  assailed  our  eyes  and 
faces  :  the  path  was  narrow,  and  made  dreadful  on  the  left- 
hand  by  a  precipice,  with  a  river  flowing  beneath  it.  We 
saw  the  way  strewed  with  bare  bones  :  we  wept  over  the 
carcasses  of  men  yet  in  a  state  of  putrefaction,  who,  induced 
by  hopes  similar  to  our  own,  had  in  vain  attempted,  after 
their  entrance,  to  return.  After  some  time,  however,  and 
many  alarms,  arriving  at  the  farther  outlet,  we  beheld  a  lake 
of  softly  murmuring  waters,  where  the  wave  came  gently 
rolling  to  the  shores.  A  bridge  of  brass  united  the  opposite 
banks.  Beyond  the  bridge  were  seen  golden  horses  of  great 
size,  mounted  by  golden  riders,  and  all  those  other  things 
which  are  related  of  Gerbert.  The  mid-day  beams  of 
Phoebus  darting  upon  them,  with  redoubled  splendour,  daz- 
zled the  eyes  of  the  beholders.  Seeing  these  things  at  a  dis- 
tance, we  should  have  been  delighted  with  a  nearer  view, 

A.0. 1002. J  THE  AQUTTANIAN  MONK.  179 

meaning,  if  fate  would  permit,  to  carry  off  some  portion  of 
the  precious  metal.  Animating  each  other  in  turn,  we  pre- 
pared to  pass  over  the  lake.  AH  our  efforts,  however,  were 
vain  :  for  as  soon  as  one  of  the  company,  more  forward  than 
the  rest,  had  put  his  foot  on  the  liither  edge  of  the  bridge, 
immediately,  wonderful  to  hear,  it  became  depressed,  and  the 
farther  edge  was  elevated,  bringing  forward  a  rustic  of  brass 
with  a  brazen  club,  with  which,  dashing  the  waters,  he  so 
clouded  the  air,  as  completely  to  obscure  both  the  day  and 
the  heavens.  The  moment  the  foot  was  withdrawn,  peace 
was  restored.  The  same  was  tried  by  many  of  us,  with 
exactly  the  same  result.  Despairing,  then,  of  getting  over, 
we  stood  there  some  little  time  ;  and,  as  long  as  we  could,  at 
least  glutted  our  eyes  with  the  gold.  Soon  after  returning 
by  the  guidance  of  the  thread,  we  found  a  silver  dish,  which 
being  cut  in  pieces  and  distributed  in  morsels  only  irritated 
the  thirst  of  our  avidity  without  allaying  it.  Consulting 
together  the  next  day,  we  went  to  a  professor,  of  that  time, 
who  was  said  to  know  the  unutterable  name  of  God.  When 
questioned,  he  did  not  deny  his  knowledge,  adding,  that,  so 
great  was  the  power  of  that  name,  that  no  magic,  no  witch- 
craft could  resist  it.  Hiring  him  at  a  great  price,  fasting 
and  confessed,  he  led  us,  prepared  in  the  same  manner,  to  a 
fountain.  Taking  up  some  water  from  it  in  a  silver  vessel, 
he  silently  traced  the  letters  with  liis  fingers,  until  we  under- 
stood by  our  eyes,  what  was  unutterable  with  our  tongues. 
We  then  went  confidently  to  the  mountain,  but  we  found  the 
farther  outlet  beset,  as  I  believe,  with  devils,  hating,  forsooth, 
the  name  of  God  because  it  was  able  to  destroy  their  inven- 
tions. In  the  morning  a  Jew-necromancer  came  to  me,  ex- 
cited by  the  report  of  our  attempt ;  and,  having  inquired 
into  the  matter,  when  he  heard  of  our  want  of  enterprise, 
"  You  shall  see,"  said  he,  venting  his  spleen  with  loud  laugh- 
ter, "how  far  the  power  of  my  art  can  prevail."  And 
immediately  entering  the  mountain,  he  soon  after  came  out 
again,  bringing,  as  a  proof  of  his  having  passed  the  lake, 
many  things  which  I  had  noted  beyond  it :  indeed  some  of  that 
most  precious  dust,  which  turned  every  thing  that  it  touched 
into  gold  :  not  that  it  was  really  so,  but  only  retained  this 
appearance  until  washed  with  water  ;  for  notliing  effected 
by  necromancy  can,  when  put  into  water,  deceive  the  sight 


180  WILLIAM   OF    MALMESBURT.  Lb-  n.  c.  10. 

of  the  beholders.     The  truth  of  my  assertion  is  confirmed 
hj  a  circumstance  which  happened  about  the  same  time. 

"  There  were  in  a  public  street  leading  to  Rome,  two  old 
•women,  the  most  drunken  and  filthy  beings  that  can  be  con- 
ceived ;  both  living  in  the  same  hut,  and  both  practising 
witchcraft.  If  any  lone  stranger  happened  to  come  in  their 
way,  they  used  to  make  him  appear  either  a  horse,  or  a  sow, 
or  some  other  animal  ;  expose  him  for  sale  to  dealers,  and 
gluttonize  with  the  money.  By  chance,  on  a  certain  night, 
taking  in  a  lad  to  lodge  who  got  his  livelihood  by  stage- 
dancing,  they  turned  him  into  an  ass  :  and  so  possessed  a 
creature  extremely  advantageous  to  their  interests,  who 
caught  the  eyes  of  such  as  passed  by  the  strangeness  of  his 
postures.  In  whatever  mode  the  old  woman  commanded, 
the  ass  began  to  dance,  for  he  retained  his  understanding, 
though  he  had  lost  the  power  of  speech.  In  this  manner 
the  women  had  accumulated  much  money  ;  for  there  was, 
daily,  a  large  concourse  of  people,  from  all  parts,  to  see  the 
tricks  of  the  ass.  The  report  of  this  induced  a  rich  neigh- 
bour to  purchase  the  quadruped  for  a  considerable  sum  ;  and 
he  was  warned,  that,  if  he  would  have  him  as  a  constant 
dancer,  he  must  keep  him  from  water.  The  person  who  had 
charge  of  him  rigidly  fulfilled  his  orders.  A  long  time 
elapsed  ;  the  ass  sometimes  gratified  his  master  by  his  reeling 
motions,  and  sometimes  entertained  his  friends  with  his  tricks. 
But,  however,  as  in  time  all  things  surfeit,  he  began  at  length 
to  be  less  cautiously  observed.  In  consequence  of  this 
negligence,  breaking  his  halter,  he  got  loose,  plunged  into  a 
pool  hard  by,  and  rolling  for  a  long  time  in  the  water,  re- 
covered his  human  form.  The  keeper,  inquiring  of  all  he 
met,  and  pursuing  him  by  the  track  of  his  feet,  asked  him  if 
he  had  seen  an  ass  ;  he  replied  that  himself  had  been  an  ass, 
but  was  now  a  man  :  and  related  the  whole  transaction.  The 
servant  astonished  told  it  to  his  master,  and  the  master  to 
pope  Leo,  the  holiest  man  in  our  times.  The  old  women 
were  convicted,  and  confessed  the  fact.  The  pope  doubting 
this,  was  assured  by  Peter  Damian,  a  learned  man,  that  it 
was  not  wonderful  that  such  things  should  be  done  :  he  pro- 
duced the  example  of  Simon  Magus,*  who  caused  Faustini- 

*  In  the  fabulous  Itinerary  of  St.  Peter,  falsely  attributed  to  Clemens 
Romanus,  Simon  is  represented   as  causing  Faustinianus  to  assume   his 

A.D.  1050.]  DEATH   OF    SILVESTER.  181 

anus  to  assume  the  figure  of  Simon,  and  to  become  an  object 
of  terror  to  his  sons,  and  thus  rendered  his  holiness  better 
skilled  in  such  matters  for  the  future." 

I  have  inserted  this  narrative  of  the  Aquitanian  to  the  in- 
tent that  what  is  reported  of  Gerbert  should  not  seem 
wonderful  to  any  person  ;  which  is,  that  he  cast,  for  his  own 
purposes,  the  head  of  a  statue,  by  a  certain  inspection  of  the 
stars  when  all  the  planets  were  about  to  begin  their  courses, 
which  spake  not  unless  spoken  to,  but  then  pronounced  the 
truth,  either  in  the  affirmative  or  negative.  For  instance, 
when  Gerbert  would  say,  "  Shall  I  be  pope  ?"  the  statute 
would  reply,  "  Yes."  "  Am  I  to  die,  ere  I  sing  mass  at 
Jerusalem  ?"  "  No."  They  relate,  that  he  was  so  much 
deceived  by  this  ambiguity,  that  he  thought  nothing  of 
repentance  :  for  when  would  he  think  of  going  to  Jerusalem, 
to  accelerate  his  own  death  ?  Nor  did  he  foresee  that  at  Rome 
there  is  a  church  called  Jerusalem,  that  is,  "  the  vision  of 
peace,"  because  whoever  flies  thither  finds  safety,  whatsoever 
crime  he  may  be  guilty  of.  We  have  heard,  that  this  was 
called  an  asylum  in  the  very  infancy  of  the  city,  because 
Romulus,  to  increase  the  number  of  his  subjects,  had  ap- 
pointed it  to  be  a  refuge  for  the  guilty  of  every  description. 
The  pope  sings  mass  there  on  three  Sundays,  which  are 
called  "  The  station  at  Jerusalem."  Wherefore  upon  one  of 
those  days  Gerbert,  preparing  himself  for  mass,  was  suddenly 
struck  with  sickness  ;  which  increased  so  that  he  took  to  his 
bed  :  and  consulting  his  statue,  he  became  convinced  of  his 
delusion  and  of  his  approaching  death.  Calling,  therefore, 
the  cardinals  together,  he  lamented  his  crimes  for  a  long 
space  of  time.  They,  being  struck  with  sudden  fear  were 
unable  to  make  any  reply,  whereupon  he  began  to  rave,  and 
losing  his  reason  through  excess  of  pain,  commanded  him- 
self to  be  maimed,  and  cast  forth  piecemeal,  saying,  "  Let 
liim  have  the  service  of  my  limbs,  who  before  sought  their 
homage  ;  for  my  mind  never  consented  to  that  abominable 

And  since  I  have  wandered  from  my  subject,  I  think  it 
may  not  be  unpleasant  to  relate  what  took  place  in  Saxony 

countenance,  by  rubbing  his  face  with  a  medicated  unguent,  to  the  great 
alarm  of  his  son^  who  mistook  him  for  Simon,  and  fled  until  recalled  b)' 
St.  Peter. 

182  WILLLIAM  OF  5IALMESBURT.  |b.  ii.  c.  10. 

in  the  time  of  this  king,  in  the  year  of  our  Lord  1012,  and 
is  not  so  generally  known.  It  is  better  to  dilate  on  such 
matters  than  to  dwell  on  Ethelred's  indolence  and  calamities  : 
and  it  will  be  more  pleasing  certainly,  and  nearer  the  truth, 
if  I  subjoin  it  in  the  original  language  of  the  person  who  was 
a  sufferer,  than  if  I  had  clothed  it  in  my  own  words.  Besides, 
I  think  it  ornamental  to  a  work,  that  the  style  should  be 
occasionally  varied. 

"  I  Ethelbert,*  a  sinner,  even  were  I  desirous  of  concealing 
the  divine  judgment  which  overtook  me,  yet  the  tremor  of 
my  limbs  would  betray  me  ;  wherefore  I  shall  relate  circum- 
stantially how  this  happened,  that  all  may  know  the  heavy 
punishment  due  to  disobedience.  We  were,  on  the  eve  of 
our  Lord^s  nativity,  in  a  certain  town  of  Saxony,  in  which 
was  the  church  of  Magnus  the  martyr,  and  a  priest  named 
Robert  had  begun  the  first  mass.  I  was  in  the  churchyard 
with  eighteen  companions,  fifteen  men  and  three  women, 
dancing,  and  singing  profane  songs  to  such  a  degree  that  I 
interrupted  the  priest,  and  our  voices  resounded  amid  the 
sacred  solemnity  of  the  mass.  Wherefore,  having  commanded 
us  to  be  silent,  and  not  being  attended  to,  he  cursed  us  in  the 
following  words,  '  May  it  please  God  and  St.  Magnus,  that 
you  may  remain  singing  in  that  manner  for  a  whole  year.* 
His  words  had  their  efiect.  The  son  of  John  the  priest 
seized  his  sister  who  was  singing  with  us,  by  the  arm,  and 
immediately  tore  it  from  her  body  ;  but  not  a  drop  of  blood 
flowed  out.  She  also  remained  a  whole  year  with  us,  dancing 
and  singing.  The  rain  fell  not  upon  us  ;  nor  did  cold,  nor 
heat,  nor  hunger,  nor  thirst,  nor  fatigue  assail  us  :  we  neither 
wore  our  clothes  nor  shoes,  but  we  kept  on  singing  as  though 
we  had  been  insane.  First  we  sank  into  the  ground  up  to 
our  knees  :  next  to  our  thighs ;  a  covering  was  at  length,  by 
the  permission  of  G-od,  built  over  us  to  keep  ofi*  the  rain. 
When  a  year  had  elapsed,  Herbert,  bishop  of  the  city  of 
Cologne,  released  us  from  the  tie  wherewith  our  hands  were 
bound,  and  reconciled  us  before  the  altar  of  St.  Magnus. 
The  daughter  of  the  priest,  with  the  other  two  women,  died 
immediately  ;  the  rest  of  us  slept  three  whole  days  and 
nights  :  some  died  afterwards,  and  are  famed  for  miracles  : 
the  remainder  betray  their  punishment  by  the  trembUng  of 
*  Other  MSS.  read  Otbert. 

A.D.  1002.]  THE  ARCHBISHOP  OF  COLOGNE.  183 

their  limbs.  This  narrative  was  given  to  us  by  the  lord 
Peregrine,  the  successor  of  Herbert,  in  the  year  of  our  Lord 

In  that  city,  which  formerly  was  called  Agrippina,  from 
Agrippa  the  son-in-law  of  Augustus,  but  afterwards  named 
Colonia  by  the  emperor  Trajan,  because  being  there  created 
emperor  he  founded  in  it  a  colony  of  Roman  citizens ;  in  this 
city,  I  repeat,  there  was  a  certain  bishop,  famed  for  piety, 
though  to  a  degree  hideous  in  his  person  ;  of  whom  I  shall  re- 
late one  miracle,  which  he  predicted  when  dying,  after  having 
first  recorded  what  a  singular  chance  elevated  him  to  such  an 
eminent  station.  The  emperor  of  that  country  going  to 
hunt  on  Quinquagesima  Sunday,  came  alone,  for  his  corn- 
companions  were  dispersed,  to  the  edge  of  a  wood,  where 
this  rural  priest,  deformed  and  almost  a  monster,  had  a 
church.  The  emperor,  feigning  himself  a  soldier,  humbly 
begs  a  mass,  which  the  priest  immediately  begins.  The 
other  in  the  meantime  was  revolving  in  his  mind  why  God, 
from  whom  all  beautiful  things  proceed,  should  suffer  so  de- 
formed a  man  to  administer  his  sacraments.  Presently, 
when  that  verse  in  the  tract  occurred,  "  Know  ye  that  the 
Lord  liimself  is  God,"  the  priest  looked  behind  him,  to  chide 
the  inattention  of  an  assistant,  and  said  with  a  louder  voice, 
as  if  in  reply  to  the  emperor's  thoughts,  "  He  made  us ;  and 
not  we  ourselves."  Struck  with  this  expression,  the  emperor 
esteeming  him  a  prophet,  exalted  him,  though  unwilling  and 
reluctant,  to  the  archbishopric  of  Cologne,  which,  when  he 
had  once  assumed,  he  dignified  by  his  exemplary  conduct ; 
kindly  encouraging  those  who  did  well,  and  branding  with 
the  stigma  of  excommunication  such  as  did  otherwise,  with- 
out respect  of  persons.  The  inhabitants  of  that  place  pro- 
claim a  multitude  of  his  impartial  acts;  one  of  which  the 
reader  will  peruse  in  that  abbreviated  form  which  my  work 
requires.  In  a  monastery  of  nuns  in  that  city,  there  was  a 
certain  virgin  who  had  there  grown  up,  more  by  the  kind- 
ness of  her  parents  than  through  any  innate  wish  for  a  holy 
life  :  this  girl,  by  the  attraction  of  her  beauty  and  her  affable 
language  to  all,  allured  many  lovers;  but  while  others, 
through  fear  of  God  or  the  censure  of  the  world,  restrained 
their  desires,  there  was  one  who,  excited  to  wantonness  by 
the  extent  of  his  wealth  and  the  nobility  of  his  descent, 

184  WILLIAM   OF    MALMESBURY.  [b.  ii.  c.  10. 

broke  through  the  bounds  of  law  and  of  justice,  and  de- 
spoiled her  of  her  virginity ;  and  carrying  her  off  kept  her 
as  his  lawful  wife.  Much  time  elapsed  while  the  abbess  en- 
treated, and  his  friends  admonislied  him  not  to  persevere  in 
so  dreadful  a  crime.  Turning  a  deaf  ear,  however,  to  his 
advisers,  he  continued  as  immoveable  as  a  rock.  By  chance 
at  this  time  the  prelate  was  absent,  occupied  in  business  at 
Rome :  but  on  his  return  the  circumstance  was  related  to 
him.  He  commands  the  sheep  to  be  returned  to  the  fold 
directly  ;  and  after  much  altercation  the  woman  was  restored 
to  the  monastery.  Not  long  after,  watching  an  opportunity 
when  the  bishop  was  absent,  she  was  again  carried  away. 
Excommunication  was  then  denounced  against  the  delinquent, 
so  that  no  person  could  speak  to,  or  associate  with  him. 
This,  however,  he  held  in  contempt,  and  retired  to  one  of  his 
estates  afar  off,  not  to  put  the  command  in  force,  but  to  elude 
its  power :  and  there,  a  turbulent  and  powerful  man,  he  lived 
in  company  with  his  excommunicated  paramour.  But  when  it 
pleased  God  to  take  the  bishop  to  himself,  and  he  was  lying 
in  extreme  bodily  pain  upon  his  bed,  the  neighbours  flocked 
around  him  that  they  might  partake  the  final  benediction  of 
this  holy  man.  The  offender  alone  not  daring  to  appear, 
prevailed  on  some  persons  to  speak  for  him.  The  moment 
the  bishop  heard  his  name  he  groaned,  and  then,  I  add  his 
very  words,  spoke  to  the  following  effect,  "  If  that  wretched 
man  shall  desert  that  accursed  woman,  he  shall  be  absolved ; 
but  if  he  persist,  let  him  be  ready  to  give  account  before 
God,  the  following  year,  at  the  very  day  and  hour  on  which 
I  shall  depart :  moreover,  you  will  see  me  expire  when  the 
bell  shall  proclaim  the  sixth  hour."  Nor  were  his  words 
vain ;  for  he  departed  at  the  time  which  he  had  predicted ; 
and  the  other,  together  with  his  mistress,  at  the  expiration 
of  the  year,  on  the  same  day,  and  at  the  same  hour,  was 
killed  by  a  stroke  of  lightning. 

But  king  Ethelred,  after  the  martyrdom  of  Elphege,  as  we 
have  related,  gave  his  see  to  a  bishop  named  Living.*  More- 
over, Turkill,  the  Dane,  who  had  been  the  chief  cause  of  the 
archbishop's  murder,  had  settled  in  England,  and  held  the 
East  Angles  in  subjection.     For  the  other  Danes,  exacting 

*  "Living,  formerly  called  Elfstan,  was  translated  from  Wells  to 
Canterbury  in  the  year  1013;  he  died,  12th  June,  1020." — Hardy. 

A.D.  1013.J  MASSACRE  OF  THE  DANES.  185 

from  the  English  a  tribute  of  eight  thousand  pounds,  had 
distributed  themselves,  as  best  suited  their  convenience,  in 
the  towns,  or  in  the  country ;  and  fifteen  of  their  ships,  with 
the  crews,  had  entered  into  the  king's  service.  In  the 
meantime  Thurkill  sent  messengers  to  Sweyn,  king  of  Den- 
mark, inviting  him  to  come  to  England ;  telling  him  that  the 
land  was  rich  and  fertile,  but  the  king  a  driveller ;  and  that, 
wholly  given  up  to  wine  and  women,  his  last  thoughts  were 
those  of  war :  that  in  consequence  he  was  hateful  to  his  own 
people  and  contemptible  to  foreigners :  that  the  commanders 
were  jealous  of  each  other,  the  people  weak,  and  that  they 
would  fly  the  field,  the  moment  the  onset  was  sounded. 

Sweyn*  was  naturally  cruel,  nor  did  he  require  much 
persuasion ;  preparing  his  ships,  therefore,  he  hastened  his 
voyage.  Sandwich  was  the  port  he  made,  principally  de- 
signing to  avenge  his  sister  Gunhilda.  This  woman,  who 
possessed  considerable  beauty,  had  come  over  to  England 
with  her  husband  Palling,  a  powerful  nobleman,  and  by  em- 
bracing Christianity,  had  made  herself  a  pledge  of  the  Dan- 
ish peace.  In  his  ill-fated  fury,  Edi'ic  had  commanded  her, 
though  proclaiming  that  the  shedding  her  blood  would  bring 
great  evil  on  the  whole  kingdom,  to  be  beheaded  with  the  other 
Danes.  She  bore  her  death  with  fortitude ;  and  she  neither 
turned  pale  at  the  moment,  nor,  when  dead,  and  her  blood  ex- 
hausted, did  she  lose  her  beauty ;  her  husband  was  murdered 
before  her  face,  and  her  son,  a  youth  of  amiable  disposition, 
was  transfixed  with  four  spears.  Sweyn  then  proceeding 
through  East  Anglia  against  the  Northumbrians,  received  their 
submission  without  resistance  :  not  indeed,  that  the  native 
ardour  of  their  minds,  which  brooked  no  master,  had  grown 
cool,  but  because  Utred,  their  prince,  was  the  first  to  give  ex- 
ample of  desertion.  On  their  submission  all  the  other  people 
who  inhabit  England  on  the  north,  gave  him  tribute  and  hos- 
tages. Coming  southward,  he  compelled  those  of  Oxford  and 
Winchester,  to  obey  his  commands  ;  the  Londoners  alone,  pro- 
tecting their  lawful  sovereign  within  their  walls,  shut  their 
*  Malmesbury  seems  to  have  fallen  into  some  confusion  here.  The 
murder  of  the  Danes  took  place  on  St.  Brice's  day,  a.d.  1002,  and  accord- 
ingly we  find  Sweyn  infesting  England  in  1 003  and  the  following  year 
(see  Saxon  Chronicle) :  but  this  his  second  arriva.  took  place,  a.d.  1013  : 
so  that  the  avenging  the  murder  of  his  sister  Gunhilda  could  hardlv  be  the 
object  of  his  present  attack. 

186  WILLIAM   OF    MALMESBURY.  [b.  ir.  c.  10. 

gates  against  him.  The  Danes,  on  the  other  hand,  assailing 
with  greater  ferocity,  nurtured  their  fortitude  with  the  hope 
of  fame;  the  townsmen  were  ready  to  rush  on  death  for 
freedom,  tliinking  they  ought  never  to  be  forgiven,  should 
they  desert  their  king,  who  had  committed  his  Hfe  to  their 
charge.  While  the  conflict  was  raging  fiercely  on  either 
side,  victory  befriended  the  juster  cause;  for  the  citizens 
made  wonderful  exertions,  every  one  esteeming  it  glorious  to 
show  his  unwearied  alacrity  to  his  prince,  or  even  to  die  for 
him.  Part  of  the  enemy  were  destroyed,  and  part  drowned 
in  the  river  Thames,  because  in  their  headlong  fury,  they 
had  not  sought  a  bridge.  With  his  shattered  army  Sweyn 
retreated  to  Bath,  where  Ethelmer,  governor  of  the  western 
district,  with  his  followers,  submitted  to  him.  And,  although 
all  England  was  already  bending  to  his  dominion,  yet  not 
even  now  would  the  Londoners  have  yielded,  had  not  Ethel- 
red  withdrawn  his  presence  from  among  them.  For  being  a 
man  given  up  to  indolence,  and,  through  consciousness  of  his 
own  misdeeds,  supposing  none  could  be  faithful  to  him,  and 
at  the  same  time  wishing  to  escape  the  difficulties  of  a  battle 
and  a  siege,  he  by  his  departure  left  them  to  their  own  exer- 
tions. However,  they  applied  the  best  remedy  they  could  to 
their  exigencies,  and  surrendered  after  the  example  of  their 
countrymen.  They  were  men  laudable  in  the  extreme,  and 
such  as  Mars  himself  would  not  have  disdained  to  encounter, 
had  they  possessed  a  competent  leader.  Even  while  they 
were  supported  by  the  mere  shadow  of  one,  they  risked 
every  chance  of  battle,  nay  even  a  siege  of  several  months' 
continuance.  He  in  the  meantime  giving  fresh  instance 
of  his  constitutional  indolence,  fled  from  the  city,  and  by 
secret  journeys  came  to  Southampton,  whence  he  passed  over 
to  the  Isle  of  Wight.  Here  he  addressed  those  abbats  and 
bishops  who,  even  in  such  difficulties,  could  not  bring  them- 
selves to  desert  their  master,  to  the  following  eflfect:  "That 
they  must  perceive  in  what  dreadful  state  his  afl'airs,  and 
those  of  his  family  were ;  that  he  was  banished  from  his  pa- 
ternal throne  by  the  treachery  of  his  generals,  and  that  he, 
in  whose  hands  their  safety  was  formerly  vested,  now  re- 
quired the  assistance  of  others ;  that  though  lately  a  monarch 
and  a  potentate,  he  was  now  an  outcast  and  a  fugitive ;  a 
melancholy  change  for  him,  because  it  certainly  is  more  toler- 

AD.  1013.]  ETHELREd's   CONFERENCE.  187 

able  never  to  have  liad  power,  tlian  to  have  lost  it  when 
possessed ;  and  more  especially  disgraceful  to  the  EngHsh,  as 
this  instance  of  deserting  their  prince  would  be  noised 
tliroughout  the  world;  that  through  mere  regard  to  him 
they  had  exposed  their  houses  and  property  to  plunderers, 
and,  unprovided,  taken  to  a  voluntary  flight ;  food  was  mat- 
ter of  difiiculty  to  all ;  many  had  not  even  clothing ;  he 
commended  their  fideUty  indeed,  but  still  could  find  no  secu- 
rity from  it ;  the  country  was  now  so  completely  subdued, 
the  coast  so  narrowly  watched,  that  there  was  no  escape  im- 
attended  with  danger :  that  they  should,  therefore,  confer  to- 
gether, what  was  to  be  done :  were  they  to  remain,  greater 
peril  was  to  be  apprehended  from  their  countrymen,  than 
from  their  enemies,  for  perhaps  they  might  purchase  the 
favour  of  their  new  master  by  joining  to  distress  them ;  and 
certainly  to  be  killed  by  an  enemy  was  to  be  ascribed  to  fortune, 
to  be  betrayed  by  a  fellow  citizen  was  to  be  attributed  to  want  of 
exertion ;  were  they  to  fly  to  distant  nations,  it  would  be  with  the 
loss  of  honour ;  if  to  those  who  knew  them,  the  dread  would 
be,  lest  their  dispositions  should  take  a  tinge  from  their  reverse 
of  fortune;  for  many  great  and  illustrious  men  had  been 
killed  on  similar  occasions ;  but,  however,  he  must  make  the 
experiment,  and  sound  the  inclinations  of  Richard,  duke  of 
Normandy,  who,  if  he  should  kindly  receive  his  sister  and 
nephews,  might  probably  not  unwillingly  afford  him  his  pro- 
tection. His  favour  shown  to  my  wife  and  children,"  con- 
tinued he,  "  will  be  the  pledge  of  my  own  security.  Should 
he  oppose  me,  I  am  confident,  nay  fully  confident,  I  shall  not 
want  spirit  to  die  here  with  honour,  in  preference  to  hving 
there  with  ignominy.  Wherefore  this  very  month  of  Au- 
gust, while  milder  gales  are  soothing  the  ocean,  let  Emma 
make  a  voyage  to  her  brother,  and  take  our  children,  our 
common  pledges,  to  be  deposited  with  him.  Let  their 
companions  be  the  bishop  of  Durham  and  the  abbat  of 
Peterborough  ;  I  myself  will  remain  here  till  Christmas, 
and  should  he  send  back  a  favourable  answer,  I  will  follow 

On  the  breaking  up  of  the  conference,  all  obeyed ;  they  set 
sail  for  Normandy,  while  he  remained  anxiously  expecting  a 
favourable  report.  Shortly  after  he  learned  from  abroad, 
that  Richard  had  received  his  sister  with  great  affection,  and 

188  WILLIA]VI  OF  MALMESBURY.  [b.  xi.  c.  10. 

that  he  invited  the  king  also  to  condescend  to  become  his 
inmate.  Ethelred,  therefore,  going  into  Normandy,  in  the 
month  of  January,  felt  his  distresses  soothed  by  the  atten- 
tions of  his  host.  This  Richard  was  son  of  Richard  the 
first,  and  equalled  his  father  in  good  fortune  and  good  qua- 
lities; though  he  certainly  surpassed  him  in  heavenly  con- 
cerns. He  completed  the  monastery  at  Feschamp,  which  his 
father  had  begun.  He  was  more  intent  on  prayer  and  tem- 
perance, than  you  would  require  in  any  monk,  or  hermit. 
He  was  humble  to  excess,  in  order  that  he  might  subdue  by 
his  patience,  the  petulance  of  those  who  attacked  him. 
Moreover  it  is  reported,  that  at  night,  secretly  escaping  the 
observation  of  his  servants,  he  was  accustomed  to  go  unat- 
tended to  the  matins  *  of  the  monks,  and  to  continue  in  prayer 
till  day-light.  Intent  on  tliis  practice,  one  night  in  par- 
ticular, at  Feschamp,  he  was  earlier  than  customary,  and 
finding  the  door  shut,  he  forced  it  open  with  unusual  vio- 
lence, and  disturbed  the  sleep  of  the  sacristan.  He,  asto- 
nished at  the  noise  of  a  person  knocking  in  the  dead  of 
night,  got  up,  that  he  might  see  the  author  of  so  bold  a 
deed ;  and  finding  only  a  countryman  in  appearance,  clothed 
in  rustic  garb,  he  could  not  refrain  from  laying  hands  on 
him ;  and,  moved  with  vehement  indignation,  he  caught  hold 
of  his  hair,  and  gave  this  illustrious  man  a  number  of  severe 
blows,  which  he  bore  with  incredible  patience,  and  without 
uttering  a  syllable.  The  next  day,  Richard  laid  his  com- 
plaint before  the  chapter,!  and  with  counterfeited  anger, 
summoned  the  monk  to  meet  him  at  the  town  of  Argens, 
threatening  that,  "  he  would  take  such  vengeance  for  the 
injury,  so  that  all  France  should  talk  of  it."  On  the  day 
appointed,  while  the  monk  stood  by,  almost  dead  with  fear, 
he  detailed  the  matter  to  the  nobility,  largely  exaggerating 
the  enormity  of  the  transaction,  and  keeping  the  culprit  in 
suspense,  by  crafty  objections  to  what  he  urged  in  mitiga- 
tion. Finally,  after  he  had  been  mercifully  judged  by  the 
nobility,  he  pardoned  him ;  and  to  make  his  forgiveness  more 
acceptable,  he  annexed  all  that  town,  with  its  appurtenances, 
reported  to  be  abundant  in  the  best  wine,  to  the  office  of  this 
sacristan:  saying,  "  That  he  was  an  admirable  monk,  who 

*  Matins  were  sometimes  performed  shortly  after  midnight. 
f  It  was  customary  to  hold  a  chapter  immediately  after  primes. 

A.D.  1013]  THE    DUKES   OF   NORMANDY.  189 

properly  observed  his  appointed  charge,  and  did  not  break 
silence,  though  roused  with  anger."  In  the  twenty-eighth 
year  of  his  dukedom,  he  died,  having  ordered  his  body  to  be 
buried  at  the  door  of  the  church,  where  it  would  be  sub- 
jected to  the  feet  of  such  as  passed  by,  and  to  the  spouts  of 
water  which  streamed  from  above.  In  our  time,  however, 
WilUam,  third  abbat  of  that  place,  regarding  this  as  dis- 
graceful, removed  the  long-continued  reproach,  and  taking 
up  the  body,  placed  it  before  the  high  altar.  He  had  a 
brother,  Robert,  whom  he  made  archbishop  of  Rouen,  though 
by  this  he  tarnished  his  reputation.  For  he,  cruelly  abusing 
this  honour,  at  first,  committed  many  crimes  and  many  atro- 
cious acts;  but  growing  in  years,  he  certainly  wiped  off 
some  of  them  by  his  very  liberal  almsgiving.  After  Richard, 
his  son  of  the  same  name  obtained  the  principality,  but  lived 
scarcely  a^  year.  A  vague  opinion  indeed  has  prevailed, 
that,  by  the  connivance  of  his  brother  Robert,  whom  Richard 
the  second  begat  on  Judith,  daughter  of  Conan,  earl  of 
Brittany,  a  certain  woman,  skilled  in  poisons,  took  the 
young  man  off.  In  atonement  for  his  privity  to  this  trans- 
action he  departed  for  Jerusalem,  after  the  seventh  year  of 
his  earldom;  venturing  on  an  undertaking  very  meritorious 
at  that  time,  by  commencing,  with  few  followers,  a  journey, 
exposed  to  incursions  of  barbarians,  and  strange,  by  reason 
of  the  customs  of  the  Saracens.  He  persevered  neverthe- 
less, and  did  not  stop,  but  safely  completed  the  whole  dis- 
tance, and  purchasing  admission  at  a  high  price,  with  bare 
feet,  and  full  of  tears,  he  worshipped  at  that  glory  of  the 
Christians,  the  sepulchre  of  our  Lord.  Conciliating  the 
favour  of  God,  as  we  believe,  by  this  labour,  on  his  return 
homewards  he  ended  his  days  at  Nice,  a  city  of  Bithynia ; 
cut  off,  as  it  is  said,  by  poison.  This  was  administered  by 
his  servant  Ralph,  surnamed  Mowin,  who  had  wrought  him- 
self up  to  the  commission  of  this  crime,  from  a  hope  of 
obtaining  the  dukedom.  But  on  his  return  to  Normandy, 
the  matter  becoming  known  to  all,  he  was  detested  as  a 
monster,  and  retired  to  perpetual  exile.  To  Robert  suc- 
ceeded William,  his  son,  then  a  child,  of  whom  as  I  shall 
have  to  speak  hereafter,  I  shall  now  return  to  my  narrative. 

In  the   meantime    Sweyn,  as  I  have  before  related,  op- 
pressed England  with  rapine  and  with  slaughter:  the  in- 

190  WILLIAM   OF   MALMESBUEY.  [b.  ir.  &  10. 

habitants  were  first  plundered  of  their  property,  and  then 
proscribed.  In  every  city  it  was  matter  of  doubt  what 
shoukl  be  done :  if  revolt  was  determined  on,  they  had  none 
to  take  the  lead;  if  submission  was  made  choice  of,  they 
would  have  a  harsh  ruler  to  deal  with.  Thus  their  public 
and  private  property,  together  with  their  hostages,  was  car- 
ried to  the  fleet ;  as  he  was  not  a  lawful  sovereign,  but  a 
most  cruel  tyrant.  The  Deity,  however,  was  too  kind  to 
permit  England  to  fluctuate  long  in  such  keen  distress,  for 
the  invader  died  shortly  after,  on  the  purification  of  St. 
Mary,*  though  it  is  uncertain  by  what  death.  It  is  reported, 
that  while  devastating  the  possessions  of  St.  Edmund,  f 
king  and  martyr,  he  appeared  to  him  in  a  vision,  and  gently 
addressed  him  on  the  misery  of  his  people ;  that  on  Sweyn's 
replying  insolently,  he  struck  him  on  the  head ;  and  that,  in 
consequence  of  the  blow,  he  died,  as  has  been  siud,  imme- 
diately after.  The  Danes  then  elected  Canute,  the  son  of 
Sweyn,  king ;  while  the  Angles,  declaring  that  their  natural 
sovereign  was  dearer  to  them,  if  he  could  conduct  himself 
more  royally  than  he  had  hitherto  done,  sent  for  king  Ethel- 
red  out  of  Normandy.  He  despatched  Edward,  liis  son,  first, 
to  sound  the  fidelity  of  the  higher  orders  and  the  inclination 
of  the  people,  on  the  spot ;  who,  when  he  saw  the  wishes  of 
all  tending  in  his  favour,  went  back  in  full  confidence  for  his 
father.  The  king  returned,  and,  being  flattered  by  the  joy- 
ful plaudits  of  the  Angles,  that  he  might  appear  to  have 
shaken  off  his  constitutional  indolence,  he  hastened  to  collect 
an  army  against  Canute,  who  was  at  that  time  in  Lindsey, 
where  his  father  had  left  him  with  the  ships  and  hostages, 
and  was  levying  fresh  troops  and  horses,  that,  mustering  a 
sufiicient  force,  he  might  make  a  vigorous  attack  upon  his 
enemies  unprepared:  vowing  most  severe  vengeance,  as  he 
used  to  say,  on  the  deserters.  But,  circumvented  by  a  con- 
trivance similar  to  his  own,  he  retreated.  Escaping  at  that 
time  with  much  difiiculty,  and  putting  to  sea  with  his  re- 
maining forces,  he  coasted  the  British  ocean  from  east  to 
south,  and  landed  at  Sandwich.  Here,  setting  all  divine  and 
human  laws  at  defiance,  he  mutilated  his  hostages,  who  were 
young  men  of  great  nobility  and  elegance,  by  depriving  them 

*  Sweyn  died  Feb.  3,  a.  d.  1014. 

f  The  monastery  of  St.  Edmimdbury. 

A.D.  1015.]  COUNCIL   AT    OXFORD.  191 

of  their  ears,  and  nostrils,  and  some  even  of  their  manhood. 
Thus  tyrannizing  over  the  innocent,  and  boasting  of  the  feat, 
he  returned  to  his  own  country.  In  the  same  year  the  sea- 
flood,  which  the  Greeks  call  Euripus,  and  we  Ledo,*  rose  to 
so  wonderful  a  height,  that  none  like  it  was  recollected  in 
the  memory  of  man,  for  it  overflowed  the  villages,  and  de- 
stroyed their  inhabitants,  for  many  miles. 

The  year  following  a  grand  council  of  Danes  and  English, 
was  assembled  at  Oxford,  where  the  king  commanded  two 
of  the  noblest  Danes,  Sigeferth,  and  Morcar,  accused  of 
treachery  to  him  by  the  impeachment  of  the  traitor  Edric,  to- 
be  put  to  death.  He  had  lured  them,  by  his  sootliing 
expressions,  into  a  chamber,  and  deprived  them,  when  di'unk 
to  excess,  of  their  lives,  by  his  attendants  who  had  been 
prepared  for  that  purpose.  The  cause  of  their  murder  was 
said  to  be,  his  unjustifiable  desire  for  their  property.  Their 
dependants,  attempting  to  revenge  the  death  of  their  lords  by 
arms,  were  worsted,  and  driven  into  the  tower  of  St. 
Frideswide's  church  at  Oxford,  where,  as  they  could  not  be 
dislodged,  they  were  consumed  by  fire  :  however,  shortly 
after,  the  foul  stain  was  wiped  out  by  the  king's  penitence, 
and  the  sacred  place  repaired.  1  have  read  the  history  of 
this  transaction,  wliich  is  deposited  in  the  archives  of  that 
church.  The  wife  of  Sigeferth,  a  woman  remarkable  for  her 
rank  and  beauty,  was  carried  prisoner  to  Malmesbury  ;  on 
which  account,  Edmund,  the  king's  son,  dissembling  his 
intention,  took  a  journey  into  those  parts.  Seeing  her,  he 
became  enamoured  ;  and  becoming  enamoured,  he  made  her 
his  wife  ;  cautiously  keeping  their  union  secret  from  his 
father,  who  was  as  much  an  object  of  contempt  to  his  family 
as  to  strangers.  This  Edmund  was  not  born  of  Emma,  but 
of  some  other  person,  whom  fame  has  left  in  obscurity. 
With  that  exception,  he  was  a  young  man  in  every  respect 
of  noble  disposition  ;  of  great  strength  both  of  mind  and 
person,  and,  on  this  account,  by  the  English,  called 
"  Ironside  : "  he  would  have  skrouded  the  indolence  of  his 
father,  and  the  meanness  of  his  mother,  by  his  own  con- 
spicuous virtue,  could  the  fates  have  spared  him.  Soon  after, 
at  the  instigation  of  his  wife,  he  asked  of  his  father  the 

*  He  here  considers  Ledo  to  imply  the  spring  tide ;  but  others  say  it 
means  the  neap,  and  express  the  former  by  Malina.     See  Du  Cange. 

192  WILLIAM   OF    MALMESBURY.  [b.  ir.  c.  10. 

possessions  of  Sigeferth,  which  were  of  large  extent  among 
the  Northumbrians,  but  could  not  obtain  them  ;  by  his  own 
exertions,  however,  he  procured  them  at  last,  the  inhabitants 
of  that  province  willingly  submitting  to  his  power. 

The  same  summer  Canute,  having  settled  his  affairs  in 
Denmark,  and  entered  into  alliance  with  the  neighbouring 
kings,  came  to  England,  determined  to  subdue  it  or  perish  in 
the  attempt.  Proceeding  from  Sandwich  into  Kent,  and 
thence  into  West  Saxony,  he  laid  every  thing  .waste  with  fire 
and  slaughter,  while  the  king  was  lying  sick  at  Cosham.* 
Edmund  indeed  attempted  to  oppose  him,  but  being  thwarted 
by  Edric,  he  placed  his  forces  in  a  secure  situation.  Edric, 
however,  thinking  it  unnecessary  longer  to  dissemble,  but 
that  he  might,  now,  openly  throw  off  the  mask,  revolted  to 
Canute  with  forty  ships,  and  all  West  Saxony  following  his 
example,  delivered  hostages,  and  gave  up  their  arms.  Yet 
the  Mercians  repeatedly  assembling  stood  forward  to  resist : 
and  if  the  king  would  but  come,  and  command  whither  they 
were  to  march,  and  bring  with  him  the  leading  men  of 
London,  they  were  ready  to  shed  their  blood  for  their 
country.  But  he,  accustomed  to  commit  his  safety  to 
fortifications,  and  not  to  attack  the  enemy,  remained  in 
London  ;  never  venturing  out,  for  fear,  as  he  said,  of 
traitors.  On  the  contrary,  Canute  was  gaining  towns  and 
villages  over  to  his  party  ;  and  was  never  unemployed  ;  for 
he  held  consultations  by  night,  and  fought  battles  by  day. 
Edmund,  after  long  deliberation,  esteeming  it  best,  in  such 
an  emergency,  to  recover,  if  possible,  the  revolted  cities  by 
arms,  brought  over  Utred,  an  earl,  on  the  other  side  of  the 
Humber,  to  the  same  sentiments.  They  imagined  too,  tlxat 
such  cities  as  were  yet  doubtful  which  side  to  take,  would 
determine  at  once,  if  they  would  only  inflict  signal  vengeance 
on  those  which  had  revolted.  But  Canute,  possessed  of  equal 
penetration,  circumvented  them  by  a  similiar  contrivance. 
Giving  over  the  West  Saxons  and  that  part  of  Mercia  which 
he  had  subjugated,  to  the  custody  of  his  generals,  he 
proceeded  himself  against  the  Northumbrians ;  and,  by 
depopulating  the  country,  compelled  Utred  to  retire,  to 
defend  his  own  possessions  ;  and  notwithstanding  he  sur- 
rendered himself,  yet  with  inhuman  levity  he  ordered  him  to 
*  Corsham,  in  Wiltshire  ? 

A.o.  lOlC.j  DEATH   OF    ETHELRED.  193 

be  put  to  death.     His  earldom  was  given  to  Eric,  whom 
Canute  afterwards  expelled  England,  because  he  pretended 
to  equal  power  with  himself.     Thus  all  being  subdued,  he 
ceased  not  pursuing  Edmund,  who  was  gradually  retreating, 
till  he  heard  that  he  was  at  London  with  his  father.    Canute 
then  remained  quiet  till  after  Easter,  that  he  might  attack 
the   city  with   all   his   forces.     But   the   death  of  Ethelred 
preceded  the  attempt :  for  in  the  beginning  of  Lent,  on  St. 
Gregory's  day,*    he   breathed  out  a  life  destined  only  to 
labours  and  misery  :  he  lies  buried  at  St.  Paul's  in  London. 
The  citizens  immediately  proclaimed  Edmund   king,   who, 
mustering    an    army,    routed    the    Danes    at    Penn,f   near 
Gillingham,  about  Rogation-day.     After  the  festival  of  St. 
John,  engaging  them  again  at  Sceorstan,  J  he  retired  from  a 
drawn-battle.     The  English  had  begun  to  give  way,  at  the 
instance  of  Edric  ;  who  being  on  the  adversaries'  side,  and 
holding  in  his  hand  a  sword  stained  with  the  blcod  of  a 
fellow  whom  he  had    dexterously  slain,   exclaimed,   "Fly. 
wretches  !  fly  !  behold,  your  king  was  slain  by  this  sword  I " 
The  Angles  would  have  fled  immediately,  had  not  the  king, 
apprised  of  this  circumstance,  proceeded  to  an  eminence,  and 
taking  off  his  helmet,  shown  his  face  to  his  comrades.    Then 
brandishing  a  dart  with  all  his  forces,  he  launched  it  at  Edric ; 
but  being  seen,   and  avoided,  it  missed  him,  and  struck  a 
soldier  standing  near  ;  and  so  great  was  its  violence,  that  it 
even  transfixed  a  second.    Night  put  a  stop  to  the  battle,  the 
hostile  armies  retreating  as  if  by  mutual  consent,  though  the 
English  had  well-nigh  obtained  the  victory. 

After  this  the  sentiments  of  the  West  Saxons  changed, 
and  they  acknowledged  their  lawful  sovereign.  Edmund 
proceeded  to  London,  that  he  might  liberate  those  deserving 
citizens  whom  a  party  of  the  enemy  had  blocked  up  imme- 
diately after  his  departure  ;  moreover  they  had  surrounded 
the  whole  city,  on  the  parts  not  washed  by  the  river  Thames, 
with  a  trench  ;  and  many  men  lost  their  lives  on  both  sides 
in  the  skirmishes.     Hearing  of  the  king's  approach,  they 

*  March  12th,  but  the  Saxon  Chronicle  says  St.  George's  day,  23d  April. 

f  In  Somersetshire  ? 

J  Sceorstan  is  conjectured  to  be  near  Chipping  Norton. —  Sharp.  Sup- 
posed to  be  a  stone  which  divided  the  four  counties  of  Oxford,  Glouccstei^ 
Worcester  and  Warwick. — Hardy. 

194  WILLIAM   OP   MALMESBURY.  Lb.  n.  c.  la 

precipitately  took  to  flight ;  while  he  pursuing  directly,  and 
passing  the  ford  called  Brentford,  routed  them  with  great 
slaughter.  The  remaining  multitude  which  were  with 
Canute,  while  Edmund  was  relaxing  a  little  and  getting  his 
affairs  in  order,  again  laid  siege  to  London  both  on  the  land 
and  river  side ;  but  being  nobly  repulsed  by  the  citizens,  they 
wreaked  their  anger  on  the  neighbouring  province  of  Mercia, 
laying  waste  the  towns  and  villages,  with  plunder,  fire,  and 
slaughter.  The  best  of  the  spoil  was  conveyed  to  their  ships 
assembled  in  the  Medway  ;  which  river  flowing  by  the  city 
of  Rochester,  washes  its  fair  walls  with  a  strong  and  rapid 
current.  They  were  attacked  and  driven  hence  also  by  the 
king  in  person ;  who  suddenly  seizing  the  ford,  which  I  have 
before  mentioned  at  Brentford,  *  dispersed  them  with  signal 

While  Edmund  was  preparing  to  pursue,  and  utterly  de- 
stroy the  last  remains  of  these  plunderers,  he  was  prevented 
by  the  crafty  and  abandoned  Edi'ic,  who  had  again  insinu- 
ated himself  into  his  good  graces ;  for  he  had  come  over  to 
Edmund,  at  the  instigation  of  Canute,  that  he  might  betray 
his  designs.  Had  the  king  only  persevered,  this  would  have 
been  the  last  day  for  the  Danes ;  but  misled  by  the  insinua- 
tions of  a  traitor,  who  affirmed  that  the  enemy  would  make 
no  farther  attempt,  he  brought  swift  destruction  upon  him- 
self, and  the  whole  of  England.  Being  thus  allowed  to 
escape,  they  again  assembled  ;  attacked  the  East  Angles, 
and,  at  Assandun,f  compelled  the  king  himself,  who  came 
to  their  assistance,  to  retreat.  Here  again,  the  person  I  am 
ashamed  to  mention  so  frequently,  designedly  gave  the  first 
example  of  flight.  A  small  number,  who,  mindful  of  their 
former  fame,  and  encouraging  each  other,  had  formed  a  com- 
pact body,  were  cut  off  to  a  man.  On  this  field  of  battle 
Canute  gained  the  kingdom ;  the  glory  of  the  Angles  fell ; 
and  the  whole  flower  of  the  country  withered.  Amongst 
these  was  Ulfkytel,  earl  of  East  Anglia,  who  had  gained 
immortal  honour  in  the  time  of  Sweyn,  when  first  attacking 
the  pirates,  he  showed  that  they  might  be  overcome:  here 

*  He  passed  the  Thames  at  Brentford,  followed  them  into  Kent,  and 
defeated  them  at  Aylesford.     Saxon  Chron. 

t  Thought  to  be  either  Assingdon,  Ashdown  in  Essex,  or  Aston  in  Berk- 

AD.  1016.1  BATTLE   OF   ASSINGDON.  195 

fell,  too,  the  chief  men  of  the  day,  both  bishops  and  abbats, 
Edmund  flying  hence  almost  alone,  came  to  Gloucester,  in 
order  that  he  might  there  re-assemble  his  forces,  and  attack 
the  enemy,  indolent,  as  he  supposed,  from  their  recent  vic- 
tory. Nor  was  Canute  wanting  in  courage  to  pursue  the 
fugitive.  When  everything  was  ready  for  battle,  Edmund 
demanded  a  single  combat ;  that  two  individuals  might  not, 
for  the  lust  of  dominion,  be  stained  with  the  blood  of  so 
many  subjects,  when  they  might  try  their  fortune  without 
the  destruction  of  their  faithful  adherents:  and  observing, 
that  it  must  redound  greatly  to  the  credit  of  either  to  have 
obtained  so  vast  a  dominion  at  his  own  personal  peril.  But 
Canute  refused  this  proposition  altogether;  affirming  that 
his  courage  was  surpassing,  but  that  he  was  apprehensive 
of  trusting  his  diminutive  person  against  so  bulky  an  an- 
tagonist :  wherefore,  as  both  had  equal  pretensions  to  the 
kingdom,  since  the  father  of  either  of  them  had  possessed 
it,  it  was  consistent  with  prudence  that  they  should  lay 
aside  their  animosity,  and  divide  England.*  This  propo- 
sition was  adopted  by  either  army,  and  confirmed  with  much 
applause,  both  for  its  equity  and  its  beneficent  regard  to  the 
repose  of  the  people  who  were  worn  out  with  continual  suf- 
fering. In  consequence,  Edmund,  overcome  by  the  general 
clamour,  made  peace,  and  entered  into  treaty  with  Canute, 
retaining  West  Saxony  himself  and  giving  Mercia  to  the 
other.  He  died  soon  after  on  the  festival  of  St.  Andrew,f 
though  by  what  mischance  is  not  known,  and  was  buried  at 
Glastonbury  near  his  grandfather  Edgar.  Fame  asperses 
Edric,  as  having,  through  regard  for  Canute,  compassed  his 
death  by  means  of  his  servants :  reporting  that  there  were 
two  attendants  on  the  king  to  whom  he  had  committed  the 
entire  care  of  his  person,  and,  that  Edric  seducing  them  by 
promises,  at  length  made  them  his  accomplices,  though  at 
first  they  were  struck  with  horror  at  the  enormity  of  the 
crime ;  and  that,  at  his  suggestion,  they  drove  an  iron  hook 
into  his  posteriors,  as  he  was  sitting  down  for  a  necessary 

*  Henry  Huntingdon  says  they  actually  engaged,  and  that  Canute  find- 
ing himself  likely  to  be  worsted,  proposed  the  division. — H.  Hunt.  1.  6. 

f  "  Florence  of  Worcester  and  the  Saxon  Chronicle  place  his  death  on 
the  30th  of  November,  1016.  Florence,  however,  adds  the  year  of  the 
iudiction,  which  corresponds  with  a.d.  1017." — Hardy. 

o  2 

196  •VVILLLIM   OF    MALMESBURT.  [b.  n.  u.  11. 

purpose.  Edwin,  his  brother  on  the  mother's  side,  a  youth 
of  amiable  disposition,  was  driven  from  England  bj  Edric, 
at  the  command  of  Canute,  and  suffering  extremely  for  a 
considerable  time,  "both  by  sea  and  land,"  his  body,  as  is 
often  the  case,  became  affected  by  the  anxiety  of  his  mind, 
and  he  died  in  England,  where  he  lay  concealed  after  a 
clandestine  return,  and  lies  buried  at  Tavistock.  His  sons, 
Edwy  and  Edward,  were  sent  to  the  king  of  Sweden  to  be 
put  to  death ;  but  being  preserved  by  his  mercy,  they  went 
to  the  king  of  Hungary,  where,  after  being  kindly  treated 
for  a  time,  the  elder  died ;  and  the  younger  married  Agatha, 
the  sister  of  the  queen.  His  brothers  by  Emma,  Alfi-ed  and 
Edward,  lay  securely  concealed  in  Normandy  for  the  Avhole 
time  that  Canute  lived. 

I  find  that  their  uncle  Richard  took  no  steps  to  restore 
them  to  their  country :  on  the  contrary,  he  married  his  sister 
Emma  to  the  enemy  and  invader ;  and  it  may  be  difficult  to 
say,  whether  to  the  greater  ignominy  of  him  who  bestowed 
her,  or  of  the  woman  who  consented  to  share  the  nuptial 
cx)uch  of  that  man  who  had  so  cruelly  molested  her  husband, 
and  had  driven  her  children  into  exile.  Robert,  however, 
whom  we  have  so  frequently  before  mentioned  as  having 
gone  to  Jerusalem,  assembling  a  fleet  and  embarking  sol- 
diers, made  ready  an  expedition,  boasting  that  he  would 
set  the  crown  on  the  heads  of  his  grand-nephews  ;  and 
doubtlessly  he  would  have  made  good  his  assertion,  had 
not,  as  we  have  heard  from  our  ancestors,  an  adverse  wind 
constantly  opposed  him :  but  assuredly  this  was  by  the  hid- 
den counsel  of  God,  in  whose  disposal  are  the  powers  of  all 
kingdoms.  The  remains  of  the  vessels,  decayed  through 
length  of  time,  were  still  to  be  seen  at  Rouen  in  our  days. 


Of  king  Canute,     [a.d.  1017— 1031.] 

Canute  began  to  reign  in  the  year  of  our  Lord  1017,  and 
reigned  twenty  years.  Though  he  obtained  the  sovereignty 
unjustly,  yet  he  conducted  himself  with  great  afilxbility  and 
firmness.  At  his  entrance  on  the  government,  dividing  the 
kingdom  into  four  parts,  himself  took  the  West  Saxons,  Edric 
the  Mercians,  Thurkill  the  East  Angles,  and  Eric  the  North- 

A.D.  1017.J  OF  KING  CANUTE.  1 97 

umbrians.  His  first  care  was  to  punish  the  murderers  of 
Edmund,  who  had,  under  expectation  of  great  recompence, 
acknowledged  the  whole  circumstances  :  he  concealed  them 
for  a  time,  and  then  brought  them  forward  in  a  large  assem- 
bly of  the  people,  where  thej"  confessed  the  mode  of  their 
attack  upon  him,  and  were  immediately  ordered  to  execution. 
The  same  year,  Edric,  whom  words  are  wanting  to  stigma- 
tize as  he  deserved,  being,  by  the  king's  command,  entrapped 
in  the  same  snare  which  he  had  so  frequently  laid  for  others, 
breathed  out  his  abominable  spirit  to  hell.  For  a  quarrel 
arising,  while  they  were  angrily  discoursing,  Edric,  relying 
on  the  credit  of  liis  services,  and  amicably,  as  it  were,  re- 
proaching the  king,  said,  "  I  first  deserted  Edmund  for  your 
sake,  and  afterwards  even  despatched  him  in  consequence  of 
my  engagements  to  you."  At  this  expression  the  counte- 
nance of  Canute  changed  with  indignation,  and  he  instantly 
pronounced  this  sentence  :  "  Thou  shalt  die,"  said  he,  "  and 
justly  ;  since  thou  art  guilty  of  treason  both  to  God  and  me, 
by  having  killed  thy  own  sovereign,  and  my  sworn  brother  ; 
thy  blood  be  upon  thy  head,  because  thy  mouth  hath  spoken 
against  thee,  and  thou  hast  lifted  thy  hand  against  the  Lord's 
anointed  :"  and  immediately,  that  no  tumult  might  be  excited, 
the  traitor  was  strangled  in  the  chamber  where  they  sat,  and 
thrown  out  of  the  window  into  the  river  Thames  :  thus  meet- 
ing the  just  reward  of  his  perfidy.  In  process  of  time,  as 
opportunities  occurred,  Thurkill  and  Eric  were  driven  out  of 
the  kingdom,  and  sought  their  native  land.  The  first,  who 
had  been  the  instigator  of  the  murder  of  St.  Elphege,  was 
killed  by  the  chiefs  the  moment  he  touched  the  Danish  shore.* 
When  all  England,  by  these  means,  became  subject  to  Canute 
alone,  he  began  to  conciliate  the  Angles  with  unceasing  dili- 
gence ;  allowing  them  equal  rights  with  the  Danes,  in  their 
assemblies,  councils,  and  armies  :  on  which  account,  as  I 
have  before  observed,  he  sent  for  the  wife  of  the  late  king  out 
of  Normandy,  that,  while  they  were  paying  obedience  to  their 
accustomed  sovereign,  they  should  the  less  repine  at  the  do- 
minion of  the  Danes.  Another  design  he  had  in  view  by 
this,  was,  to  acquire  favour  with  Richard  ;  who  would  think 

*  The  Danish  chiefs  were  apprehensive  that  he  would  excite  commo- 
tions in  their  country ;  in  consequence  of  which  he  was  ultimately  de- 
spatched.— Ang.  Sac.  ii.  144. 

198  TTILLIAM   OF   MALMESBUKT.  [b.iuc.U. 

little  of  his  nephews,  so  long  as  he  supposed  he  might  have 
others  by  Canute.  He  repaired,  throughout  England,  the 
monasteries,  which  had  been  partly  injured,  and  partly  de- 
stroyed by  the  military  incursions  of  himself,  or  of  his  father  j 
he  built  churches  in  all  the  places  where  he  had  fought,  and 
more  particularly  at  Assingdon,  and  appointed  ministers  to 
them,  who,  through  the  succeeding  revolutions  of  ages,  might 
pray  to  God  for  the  souls  of  the  persons  there  slain.  At  the 
consecration  of  this  edifice,  himself  was  present,  and  the 
English  and  Danish  nobility  made  their  offerings  :  it  is  now, 
according  to  report,  an  ordinary  church,  under  the  care  of  a 
parish  priest.  Over  the  body  of  the  most  holy  Edmund, 
whom  the  Danes  of  former  times  had  killed,  he  built  a  church 
with  princely  magnificence,  appointed  to  it  an  abbat,  and 
monks :  and  conferred  on  it  many  large  estates.  The  great- 
ness of  his  donation,  yet  entire,  stands  proudly  eminent  at  the 
present  day  ;  for  that  place  surpasses  almost  all  the  monas- 
teries of  England.  He  took  up,  with  his  own  hands,  the 
body  of  St.  Elphege,  which  had  been  buried  at  St.  Paul's  in 
London,  and  sending  it  to  Canterbury,  honoured  it  with  due 
regard.  Thus  anxious  to  atone  for  the  offences  of  himself  or 
of  his  predecessors,  perhaps  he  wiped  away  the  foul  stain  of 
his  former  crimes  with  God  :  certainly  he  did  so  with  man. 
At  Winchester,  he  displayed  all  the  magnificence  of  his  liber- 
ality :  here  he  gave  so  largely,  that  the  quantity  of  precious 
metals  astonished  the  minds  of  strangers  ;  and  the  glittering 
of  jewels  dazzled  the  eyes  of  the  beholders  :  this  was  at 
Emma's  suggestion,  who  with  pious  prodigality  exhausted 
his  treasures  in  works  of  this  kind,  while  he  was  meditating 
fierce  attacks  on  foreign  lands.  For  his  valour,  incapable  of 
rest,  and  not  contented  with  Denmark,  which  he  held  from 
his  father,  and  England,  which  he  possessed  by  right  of  war, 
transferred  its  rage  against  the  Swedes.  These  people  are 
contiguous  to  the  Danes,  and  had  excited  the  displeasure  of 
Canute  by  their  ceaseless  hostility.  At  first  he  fell  into  an 
ambush,  and  lost  many  of  his  people,  but  afterwards  recruit- 
ing his  strength,  he  routed  his  opponents,  and  brought  the 
kings  of  that  nation,  Ulf  and  Eglaf,  to  terms  of  peace.  The 
English,  at  the  instance  of  earl  Godwin,  behaved  nobly  in 
this  conflict.  He  exhorted  them,  not  to  forget  their  ancient 
fame,  but  clearly  to  display  their  valour  to  their  new  lord  : 

A.D.  1030, 1031. J  Canute's  epistle,  199 

telling  them,  that  it  must  be  imputed  to  fortune,  that  they 
had  formerly  been  conquered  by  him,  but  it  would  be  as- 
cribed to  their  courage,  if  they  overcame  those  who  had  over- 
come him.  In  consequence,  the  English  put  forth  all  their 
strength,  and  gaining  the  victory,  obtained  an  earldom  for 
their  commander,  and  honour  for  themselves.  Thence,  on 
his  return  home,  he  entirely  subdued  the  kingdom  of  Nor- 
way, putting  Olave,  its  king,  to  flight ;  who,  the  year  fol- 
lowing, returning  v/ith  a  small  party  into  his  kingdom,  to 
try  the  inclinations  of  the  inhabitants,  found  them  faithless, 
and  was  slain  with  his  adherents. 

In  the  fifteenth  year  of  his  reign,  Canute  went  to  Rome, 
and  after  remaining  there  some  time,  and  atoning  for  his 
crimes  by  giving  alms  to  the  several  churches,  he  sailed  back 
to  England.*  Soon  after,  with  little  difficulty,  he  subdued 
Scotland,  then  in  a  state  of  rebellion,  and  Malcolm  her  king, 
by  leading  an  army  thither.  I  trust  it  will  not  appear  use- 
less, if  I  subjoin  the  epistle,  which  he  transmitted  to  the 
English,  on  liis  departure  from  Rome,  by  the  hands  of  Living, 
abbat  of  Tavistock,  and  afterwards  bishop  of  Crediton,  to  ex- 
empHfy  his  reformation  of  life,  and  his  princely  magnificence. 

"  Canute,  king  of  all  England,  Denmark,  Norway,  and 
part  of  the  Swedes,  to  Ethelnoth,  metropolitan,  and  Elfric 
archbishop  of  York,  and  to  all  bishops,  iiobles,  and  to  the 
whole  nation  of  the  English  high  arid  low,  health.  I  notify 
to  you,  that  I  have  lately  been  to  Rome,  to  pray  for  the  for- 
giveness of  my  sins  ;  for  the  safety  of  my  dominions,  and  of 
the  people  under  my  government.  I  had  long  since  vowed 
such  a  journey  to  God,  but,  hitherto  hindered  by  the  affairs 
of  my  kingdom,  and  other  causes  preventing,  I  was  unable  to 
accomplish  it  sooner.  I  now  return  thanks  most  humbly  to 
my  Almighty  God,  for  suffering  me,  in  my  lifetime,  to  ap- 
proach the  holy  apostles  Peter  and  Paul,  and  all  the  holy 
saints  within  and  without  the  city  of  Rome,  wherever  I  could 
discover  them,  and  there,  present,  to  worship  and  adore  ac- 
cording to  my  desire.  I  have  been  the  more  diligent  in  the 
performance  of  this,  because  I  have  learned  from  the  wise, 
that  St.  Peter,  the  apostle,  has  received  from  God,  great 
power  in  binding  and  in  loosing  :  that  he  carries  the  key  of 
the  kingdom  of  heaven  ;  and  consequently  I  have  judged 
*  He  returned  by  the  way  of  Denmark.     Florence  of  Worcester. 

^06  WILLIAM   OF   MALMESBURT.  [v.  ir.  c.  11. 

it  matter  of  special  importance  to  seek  his  infiuoncs  with 
God.  Be  it  known  to  you,  that  at  the  solemnity  of  Easter, 
a  great  assembly  of  nobles  was  present  with  pope  John, 
and  the  emperor  Conrad,  that  is  to  say,  all  the  princes 
of  the  nations  from  mount  Garganus*  to  the  neighbour- 
ing sea.  All  these  received  me  with  honour,  and  pre- 
sented me  with  magnificent  gifts.  But  more  especially  was 
I  honoured  by  the  emperor,  with  various  gifts  and  offerings,  in 
gold  and  silver  vessels,  and  palls  and  costly  garments.  More- 
over, I  spoke  with  the  emperor  himself,  and  the  sovereign 
pope  and  the  nobles  who  were  there,  concerning  the  wants  of 
all  my  people,  English  as  well  as  Danes  ;  observing  that 
there  ought  to  be  granted  to  them  more  equitable  regulations, 
and  greater  security  on  their  passage  to  Rome  ;  that  they 
should  not  be  impeded  by  so  many  barriersf  on  the  road,  nor 
harassed  with  unjust  exactions.  The  emperor  assented  to 
my  request,  as  did  Rodolph  the  king,  who  has  the  chief 
dominion  over  those  barriers  ;  and  all  the  princes  confirmed 
by  an  edict,  that  my  subjects,  traders,  as  well  as  those  who 
went  on  a  religious  account,  should  peaceably  go  and  return 
from  Rome,  without  any  molestation  from  warders  of  bar- 
riers, or  tax-gatherers.  Again  I  complained  before  the  pope, 
and  expressed  my  high  displeasure,  that  my  archbishops  were 
oppressed  by  the  immense  sum  of  money  which  is  demanded 
from  them  when  seeking,  according  to  custom,  the  apostolical 
residence  to  receive  the  pall :  and  it  was  determined  that  it 
should  be  so  no  longer.  Moreover,  all  things  which  I  re- 
quested for  the  advantage  of  my  kingdom,  from  the  sovereign 
pope,  and  the  emperor,  and  king  Rodolph,  and  the  other 
princes,  through  whose  territories  our  road  to  Rome  is 
situated,  they  have  freely  granted,  and  confirmed  by  oath, 
under  the  attestation  of  four  archbishops,  and  twenty  bishops, 
and  an  innumerable  multitude  of  dukes  and  nobles  who 
were  present.  Wherefore  I  give  most  hearty  thanks  to  God 
Almighty,  for  having  successfully  completed  all  that  I  had 
wished,  in  the  manner  I  had  designed,  and  fully  satisfied  my 
intentions.  Be  it  known  then,  that  since  I  have  vowed  to 
God  himself,  henceforward  to  reform  my  life  in  all  things, 

*  St.  Angelo  in  Calabria. 

•j"  The  several  princes,  through  whose  territories  their  passage  lay,  exacted 
large  sums  for  permission  to  pass  ;  apparently  in  the  defiles  of  the  Alps. 

A.  D.  1031.]  Canute's  epistle.  201 

and  justly,  and  piouslj  fo  govern  the  kingdoms  and  the 
people  subject  to  me,  and  to  maintain  equal  justice  in  all 
things  ;  and  have  determined,  through  God's  assistance,  to 
rectify  any  thing  hitherto  unjustly  done,  either  through  the 
intemperance  of  my  youth,  or  through  negligence  ;  therefore 
T  call  to  witness,  and  command  my  counsellors,  to  whom  I 
have  entrusted  the  counsels  of  the  kingdom,  that  they  by  no 
means,  either  through  fear  of  myself,  or  favour  to  any  power- 
ful person,  suffer,  henceforth,  any  injustice,  or  cause  such,  to 
be  done  in  all  my  kingdom.  Moreover,  I  command  all 
sheriffs,  or  governors  throughout  my  whole  kingdom,  as  they 
tender  my  affection,  or  their  own  safety,  not  to  commit  in- 
justice towards  any  man,  rich  or  poor,  but  to  allow  all,  noble 
and  ignoble,  alike  to  enjoy  impartial  law,  from  which  they 
are  never  to  deviate,  either  on  account  of  royal  favour,  the 
person  of  any  powerful  man,  or  for  the  sake  of  amassing 
money  for  myself :  for  I  have  no  need  to  accumulate  money 
by  unjust  exaction.  Be  it  known  to  you  therefore,  that  re- 
turning by  the  same  way  that  I  went,  I  am  now  going  to 
Denmark,  through  the  advice  of  all  the  Danes,  to  make  peace 
and  firm  treaty  with  those  nations,  who  were  desirous,  had  it 
been  possible,  to  deprive  me  both  of  life  and  of  sovereignty : 
this,  however,  they  were  not  able  to  perform,  God,  who  by 
his  kindness  preserves  me  in  my  kingdom  and  in  my  honour, 
and  destroys  the  power  of  all  my  adversaries,  bringing  their 
strength  to  nought.  Moreover,  when  I  have  established 
peace  with  the  surrounding  nations,  and  put  all  our  sove- 
reignty here  in  the  East  in  tranquil  order,  so  that  there 
shall  be  no  fear  of  war  or  enmity  on  any  side,  I  intend 
coming  to  England,  as  early  in  the  summer  as  I  shall  be  able 
to  get  my  fleet  prepared.  I  have  sent  this  epistle  before  me, 
in  order  that  my  people  may  rejoice  at  my  prosperity  ;  be- 
cause, a?  yourselves  know,  I  have  never  spared,  nor  will  I 
spare,  either  myself  or  my  pains  for  the  needful  service  of 
my  whole  people.  I  now  therefore  adjure  all  my  bishops, 
and  governors,  throughout  my  kingdom,  by  the  fidelity  they 
owe  to  God  and  me,  to  take  care  that,  before  I  come  to  Eng- 
land, all  dues  owing  by  ancient  custom  be  discharged  :  that 
is  to  say,  plough-alms,*  the  tenth  of  animals  born  in  the 

*  A  penny  for  every  plough,  that  is,  for  as  much  land  as  a  plough  could 

202  WILLIAM   OF    MALMESIiURY.  Lb.  ii.  c  11. 

current  year,*  and  the  pence  owing  to  Rome  for  St.  Peter, 
whether  from  cities  or  villages :  and  in  the  middle  of  August, 
the  tenth  of  the  produce  of  the  earth  :  and  on  the  festival  of 
St.  Martin,  the  first  fruits  of  seeds,  to  the  church  of  the 
parish  where  each  one  resides,  which  is  called  in  English 
*  Circscet.'"!'  If  these  and  such  like  things  are  not  paid  be- 
fore I  come  to  England,  all  who  shall  have  ofiended  will 
incur  the  penalty  of  a  royal  mulct,J  to  be  exacted  without 
remission,  according  to  law."  Nor  was  this  declaration  with- 
out eifect ;  for  he  commanded  all  the  laws  which  had  been 
enacted  by  ancient  kings,  and  chiefly  by  his  predecessor 
Ethelred,  to  be  observed  for  ever,  under  the  penalty  of  a 
royal  mulct :  in  the  observance  of  which,  §  the  custom  even 
at  the  present  day,  in  the  time  of  good  kings,  is  to  swear  by 
the  name  of  king  Edward,  not  that  he  indeed  appointed,  but 
that  he  observed  them. 

At  that  time  there  were  in  England  very  great  and  learned 
men,  the  principal  of  whom  was  Ethelnoth,  archbishop  after 
Living.  He  was  appointed  primate  from  being  dean,||  and 
performed  many  works  truly  worthy  to  be  recorded  :  en- 
couraging even  the  king  himself  in  his  good  actions  by  the 
authority  of  his  sanctity,  and  restraining  him  in  his  excesses : 
he  first  exalted  the  archiepiscopal  cathedral  by  the  presence 
of  the  body  of  St.  Elphege,  and  afterwards  personally  at 
Rome,  restored  it  to  its  pristine  dignity.^  Returning  home, 
he  transmitted  to  Coventry  the  arm  of  St.  Augustine**  the 
teacher,  which  he  had  purchased  at  Pavia,  for  an  hundred 
talents  of  silver,  and  a  talent  of  gold.  Moreover,  Canute 
took  a  journey  to  the  church  of  Glastonbury,  that  he  might 
visit  the  remains  of  his  brother  Edmund,  as  he  used  to  call 

till,  to  be  distributed  to  the  poor  :  it  Avas  payable  in  fifteen  days  from 
Easter.  *  Payable  at  Whitsuntide. 

t  A  certain  quantity  of  com.  Though  it  also  implies,  occasionally,  other 
kinds  of  offerings. 

t  A  forfeiture  to  the  kmg,  but  varying  according  to  the  nature  of  the 

^  This  seems  to  be  the  meaning  :  he  has  probably  in  view  the  practice 
of  the  early  princes  of  the  Norman  line,  who  swore  to  observe  the  laws  of 
king  Edward.  ||  Dean  of  Canterbury. 

^  Tliis  appears  merely  intended  to  express  that  he  received  the  pall 
from  the  pope.  The  two  transactions  are  inverted ;  he  went  to  Rome 
A.D.  1021,  and  translated  Elphege 's  body  a.d.  1023. 

*  *  Augustine,  bishop  of  Hippo. 

A.D.  1031.]  CHARTER  OF    GLASTONBURY.  203 

him  ;  and  praying  over  his  tomb,  he  presented  a  pall,  inter- 
woven, as  it  appeared,  with  party-coloured  figures  of  pea- 
cocks. Near  the  king  stood  the  before-named  Ethelnoth, 
who  was  the  seventh  monk  of  Glastonbury  that  had  become 
archbishop  of  Canterbury  :  first  Berthwald  :  second  Athelm, 
first  bishop  of  Wells  :  third  his  nephew  Dunstan  :  fourth 
Ethelgar,  first  abbat  of  the  New-minster  at  Winchester, 
and  then  bishop  of  Chichester  :*  fifth  Siric,  who,  when  he 
was  made  archbishop,  gave  to  this  his  nursing-mother  seven 
palls,  with  which,  i  pon  his  anniversary,  the  whole  ancient 
church  is  ornamented  :  sixth  Elphege,  who  from  prior  of 
Glastonbury  was,  first,  made  abbat  of  Bath,  and  then  bishop 
of  Winchester  :  seventh  Ethelnoth,  who  upon  showing  to 
the  king  the  immunities  of  predecessors,  asked,  and  obtained 
from  the  king's  own  hand  a  confirmation  of  them,  which  was 
to  the  following  effect. 

"  The  Lord  reigning  for  evermore,  who  disposes  and 
governs  all  things  by  his  unspeakable  power,  who  wonder- 
fully determines  the  changes  of  times  and  of  men,  and  justly 
brings  them  to  an  uncertain  end,  according  to  his  pleasure  ; 
and  who  from  the  secret  mysteries  of  nature  mercifully 
teaches  us,  how  lasting,  instead  of  fleeting  and  transitory, 
kingdoms  are  to  be  obtained  by  the  assistance  of  God :  where- 
fore I  Canute  king  of  England,  and  governor  and  ruler  of 
the  adjacent  nations,  by  the  counsel  and  decree  of  our  arch- 
bishop Ethelnoth,  and  of  all  the  priests  of  God,  and  by  the 
advice  of  our  nobility,  do,  for  the  love  of  heaven,  and  the 
pardon  of  my  sins,  and  the  remission  of  the  transgressions  of 
my  brother,  king  Edmund,  grant  to  the  church  of  the  holy 
mother  of  God,  Mary,  at  Glastonbury,  its  rights  and  customs 
throughout  my  kingdom,  and  all  forfeitures  throughout  its 
possessions,  and  that  its  lands  shall  be  free  from  all  claim 
and  vexation  as  my  own  are.  Moreover,  I  inhibit  more 
especially,  by  the  authority  of  the  Almighty  Father,  Son, 
and  Holy  Spirit,  and  the  curse  of  the  eternal  Virgin,  and  so 
command  it  to  be  observed  by  the  judges  and  primates  of 
my  kingdom  as  they  tender  their  safety,  every  person,  be 
they  of  what  order  or  dignity  they  may,  from  entering,  on 

*  He  was  bishop  of  Selsey,  which  see  was  afterwards  removed  to 

204  WILLIAM    OF    MALMESBURY.  [n.  ii.  c.  11. 

anj  account,  that  island  ;*  but  all  causes,  ecclesiastical  as 
well  as  secular,  shall  await  the  sole  judgment  of  the  abbat 
and  convent,  in  like  manner  as  my  predecessors  have  ratified 
and  confirmed  bj  charters  ;  that  is  to  say,  Kentwin,  Ina, 
Cuthred,  Alfred,  Edward,  Ethelred,  Athelstan,  the  most 
glorious  Edmund,  and  the  equally  glorious  Edgar.  And 
should  any  one  hereafter  endeavour,  on  any  occasion,  to 
break  in  upon,  or  make  void  the  enactment  of  this  grant,  let 
him  be  driven  from  the  communion  of  the  righteous  by  the 
fan  of  the  last  judgment ;  but  should  any  person  endeavour 
diligently,  with  benevolent  intention,  to  perform  these  things, 
to  approve,  and  defend  them,  may  God  increase  his  portion 
in  the  land  of  the  living,  through  the  intercession  of  the  most 
holy  mother  of  God,  Mary,  and  the  rest  of  the  saints.  The 
grant  of  this  immunity  was  Avritten  and  published  in  the 
Wooden  Church,  in  the  presence  of  king  Canute,  in  the  year 
of  our  Lord  1032,  the  second  indiction." 

By  the  advice  of  the  said  archbishop  also,  the  king,  send- 
ing money  to  foreign  churches,  very  much  enriched  Chartres, 
where  at  that  time  flourished  bishop  Fulbert,  most  renowned 
for  sanctity  and  learning.  Who,  among  other  demonstrations 
of  his  diligence,  very  magnificently  completed  the  church  of 
our  lady  St.  Mary,  the  foundations  of  which  he  had  laid :  and 
which  moreover,  in  his  zeal  to  do  every  thing  he  could  for  its 
honour,  he  rendered  celebrated  by  many  musical  modulations. 
The  man  who  has  heard  his  chants,  breathing  only  celestial 
vows,  is  best  able  to  conceive  the  love  he  manifested  in 
honour  of  the  Virgin.  Among  his  other  works,  a  volume  of 
epistles  is  extant  ;  in  one  of  which,!  he  thanks  that  most 
magnificent  king  Canute,  for  pouring  out  the  bowels  of  his 
generosity  in  donations  to  the  church  of  Chartres. 

In  the  fifteenth  year  of  Canute's  reign,  Robert  king  of 
France,  of  whom  we  have  before  briefly  spoken,  departed 
this  life  :  a  man  so  much  given  to  alms,  that  when,  on  festi- 
val days,  he  was  either  dressing,  or  putting  off  the  royal 
robes,  if  he  had  nothing  else  at  hand,  he  would  give  even 

*  The  whole  country  round  Glastonbury  is  flat  and  marshy,  bearing  evi- 
dent marks  of  having  formerly  been  covered  by  water. 

t  "See  the  letter  of  Fulbert  to  king  Canute  (an.  1020  aut  1021.) 
No.  xliv.,  p.  466.  tom,  x.  Rec.  des  Hist,  de  la  France.  Fulberti  Camot, 
Episc.  Op.  Var.  8vo.  par.  1608.  Epist.  xcvii.  p.  92." — Hardy. 


A.D.  103C.]  HAROLD    AND    IIARDECANUTE.  205 

these  to  the  poor,  if  his  attendants  did  not  purposely  dnve 
away  the  needy  who  were  importuning  him.  He  had  two 
sons,  Odo,  and  Henry  :  the  elder,  Odo,*  was  dull :  the  other 
crafty  and  impetuous.  Each  parent  had  severally  divided 
their  affections  on  their  children  :  the  father  loved  the  first- 
born, often  saying  that  he  should  succeed  him  :  the  mother 
regarded  the  younger,  to  whom  the  sovereignty  was  justly 
due,  if  not  for  his  age,  yet  certainly  for  his  ability.  It  hap- 
pened, as  women  are  persevering  in  their  designs,  that  she 
did  not  cease  until,  by  means  of  presents,  and  large  promises, 
she  had  gotten  to  her  side  all  the  chief  nobility  Avho  are  sub- 
ject to  the  power  of  France.  In  consequence,  Henry,  chiefly 
through  the  asssistance  of  Robert  the  Norman,  was  crowned 
ere  his  fjither  had  well  breathed  his  last.  Mindful  of  this 
kindness,  when,  as  I  before  related,  Robert  went  to  Jerusa- 
lem, Henry  most  strenuously  espoused  the  cause  of  William, 
his  son,  then  a  youth,  against  those  who  attempted  to  throw 
off  his  yoke.  In  the  meantime  Canute,  finishing  his  earthly 
career,  died  at  Shaftesbury,  and  was  buried  at  Winchester. 


Of  king  Harold  and  Hardecanute.     [a.d.  1036—1042.] 

In  the  year  of  our  Lord's  incarnation  1036,t  Harold,  whom 
fame  I  reported  to  be  the  son  of  Canute,  by  the  daughter  of 
earl  Eli'elm,  succeeded,  and  reigned  four  years  and  as  many 
months.  He  was  elected  by  the  Danes  and  the  citizens  of 
London,  who,  from  long  intercourse  with  these  barbarians, 
had  almost  entirely  adopted  their  customs.  The  English 
resisted  for  a  long  time,  rather  wishing  to  have  one  of  the 
sons  of  Ethelred,  who  were  then  in  Normandy,  or  else  Har- 
decanute, the  son  of  Canute  by  Emma,  at  that  time  in  Den- 

*  Though  several  French  chronicles  give  nearly  the  same  account  of 
Odo  being  the  elder  brother,  the  learned  editors  of  the  Recueil  des  Histo- 
riens  de  France  insist  that  the  assertion  is  false. 

f  "  After  the  death  of  Canute,  the  kingdom  was  at  first  divided :  the 
northern  part  fell  to  the  share  of  Harold,  and  Hardecanute  obtained  the 
fiouthern  division.  In  the  year  1037,  Harold  was  chosen  to  reign  over  all 
England,  (Flor.  Wigom.)" — Hardy. 

J  This  he  notices,  because  there  was  a  suspicion  that  she  had  imposed 
the  children  of  a  priest  and  of  a  cobbler  on  Canute  as  her  owti.  V.  Flor. 

206  WILLIAM   OP   MALMESBURY.  [b.  ti.  c.  12. 

mark,  for  their  king.  The  greatest  stickler  for  justice,  at 
this  juncture,  was  earl  Godwin ;  who  professing  liimself  the 
defender  of  the  fatherless,  and  having  queen  Emma  and  the 
royal  treasures  in  his  custody,  for  some  time  restrained  his 
opponents  by  the  power  of  his  name :  but  at  last,  overcome 
by  numbers  and  by  violence,  he  was  obliged  to  give  way. 
Harold,  secure  in  his  sovereignty,  drove  his  mother-in-law 
into  exile.  Not  thinking  she  should  be  safe  in  Normandy, 
where,  her  brother  and  nephews  being  dead,  disgust  at  the 
rule  of  a  deserted  orphan  created  great  disorders,  she  passed 
over  into  Flanders,  to  earl  Baldwin,  a  man  of  tried  integ- 
rity :  who  afterwards,  when  king  Henry  died  leaving  a 
young  son,  PhiHp,  for  some  years  nobly  governed  the  king- 
dom of  France,  and  faithfully  restored  it  to  him,  for  he  had 
married  his  aunt,  when  he  came  of  age.  Emma  passed 
three  years  securely  under  the  protection  of  this  man,  at 
the  expiration  of  which,  Harold  dying  at  Oxford,  in  the 
month  of  April,*  was  buried  at  Westminster.  The  Danes 
and  the  English  then  uniting  in  one  common  sentiment  of 
sending  for  Hardecanute,  he  came,  by  way  of  Normandy, 
into  England  in  the  month  of  August.  For  Ethelred's  sons 
were  held  in  contempt  nearly  by  all,  more  from  the  recollec- 
tion of  their  father's  indolence,  than  the  power  of  the  Danes. 
Hardecanute,  reigning  two  years  except  ten  days,  lost  his 
life  amid  his  cups  at  Lambeth  nigh  London,  and  was  buried 
near  his  father  at  Winchester:  a  young  man  who  evinced 
great  affection  towards  his  brother  and  sister.  For  his  bro- 
ther, Edward,  wearied  with  continual  wandering,  revisiting 
his  native  land  in  the  hope  of  fraternal  kindness,  was  re- 
ceived by  him  with  open  arms,  and  entertained  most  affec- 
tionately. He  was  rash,  however,  in  other  respects,  and  at 
the  instigation  of  Elfric,  archbishop  of  York,  and  of  others 
whom  I  am  loath  to  name,  he  ordered  the  dead  body  of 
Harold  to  be  dug  up,  the  head  to  be  cut  off,  and  thrown 
into  the  Thames,  a  pitiable  spectacle  to  men  !  but  it  was 
dragged  up  again  in  a  fisherman's  net,  and  buried  in  the 
cemetery  of  the  Danes  at  London.  He  imposed  a  rigid,  and 
intolerable  tribute  upon  England,  in  order  that  he  might 
pay,  according  to  his  promise,  twenty  marks  to  the  soldiers 

♦  The  Saxon  Chronicle  says  March  17:   it  also    makes    Hardecanute 
arrive  on  the  1 8th  of  June. 

A.D.  1041.J  EXPULSION    OF    A    BISHOP.  207 

of  each  of  his  vessels.  While  this  was  harshly  levied 
throughout  the  kingdom,  two  of  the  collectors,  discharging 
their  office  rather  too  rigorously,  were  killed  by  the  citizens 
of  Worcester  ;  upon  which,  burning  and  depopulating  the 
city  by  means  of  his  commanders,  and  plundering  the  pro- 
perty of  the  citizens,  he  cast  a  blemish  on  his  fame  and 
diminished  the  love  of  his  subjects.  But  here  I  will  not 
pass  over  in  silence,  what  tattlers  report  of  Alfred  the  first- 
born of  Ethelred.  Doubtful  what  to  do  between  Harold's 
death  and  the  arrival  of  Hardecanute,  he  came  into  the 
kingdom,  and  was  deprived  of  his  eyes  by  the  treachery  of 
his  countrymen,  and  chiefly  of  Godwin,  at  Gillingham :  from 
thence  being  sent  to  the  monastery  of  Ely,  he  supported,  for 
a  little  time,  a  wretched  subsistence  upon  homely  food ;  all 
his  companions,  with  the  exception  of  the  tenth,  being  be- 
headed :  for  by  lot  every  tenth  man  was  saved.*  I  have 
mentioned  these  circumstances,  because  such  is  the  report ; 
but  as  the  Chronicles  are  silent,  I  do  not  assert  them  for 
fact.  For  this  reason,  Hardecanute,  enraged  against  Living, 
bishop  of  Crediton,  whom  public  opinion  pointed  out  as 
author  of  the  transaction,  expelled  him  from  his  see :  but, 
soothed  with  money,  he  restored  him  within  the  year. 
Looking  angrily  too  upon  Godwin,  he  obliged  him  to  clear 
himself  by  oath;  but  he,  to  recover  his  favour  entirely, 
added  to  his  plighted  oath  a  present  of  the  most  rich  and 
beautiful  kind  ;  it  was  a  ship  beaked  with  gold,  having 
eighty  soldiers  on  board,  who  had  two  bracelets  on  either 
arm,  each  weighing  sixteen  ounces  of  gold;  on  their  heads 
were  gilt  helmets ;  on  their  left  shoulder  they  carried  a  Dan- 
ish axe,  with  an  iron  spear  in  their  right  hand ;  and,  not  to 
enumerate  everything,  they  were  equipped  with  such  arms, 
as  that  splendour  vying  with  terror,  might  conceal  the  steel 
beneath  the  gold.  But  farther,  as  I  had  begun  to  relate,  his 
sister  Gunhilda,  the  daughter  of  Canute  by  Emma,  a  young 
woman  of  exquisite  beauty,  who  was  sighed  for,  but  not 
obtained,  by  many  lovers  in  her  father's  time,  was  by 
Hardecanute  given  in  marriage  to  Henry,  emperor  of  the 

*  The  printed  Saxon  Chronicle  has  no  mention  of  this  transaction,  hut 
there  are  two  manuscripts  which  relate  it.  The  story  appears  true  in  the 
main,  but  it  is  told  with  so  much  variety  of  time,  place,  &c.,  that  it  is  diffi- 
cult to  ascertain  its  real  circumstances.     See  MSS.  Cott.  Tib.  b.  i.  and  It. 

208  WILLIAM   OF    MALMESBUKY.  [c.  ii.  c.  12. 

Germans.  The  splendour  of  the  nuptial  pageant  was  very- 
striking,  and  is  even  in  our  times  frequently  sung  in  ballads 
about  the  streets :  where  while  this  renowned  lady  was  being 
conducted  to  the  ship,  all  the  nobility  of  England  were 
crowding  around  and  contributing  to  her  charges  whatever 
was  contained  in  the  general  purse,  or  royal  treasury.  Pro- 
ceeding in  this  manner  to  her  husband,  she  cherished  for  a 
long  time  the  conjugal  tie;  at  length  being  accused  of  adul- 
tery, she  opposed  in  single  combat  to  her  accuser,  a  man  of 
gigantic  size,  a  young  lad  of  her  brother's*  establishment, 
whom  she  had  brought  from  England,  while  her  other  at- 
tendants held  back  in  cowardly  apprehension.  When,  there- 
fore, they  engaged,  the  impeacher,  through  the  miraculous 
interposition  of  God,  was  worsted,  by  being  ham-strung. 
Gunhilda,  exulting  at  her  unexpected  success,  renounced  the 
marriage  contract  with  her  husband;  nor  could  she  be  in- 
duced either  by  threats  or  by  endearments  again  to  share  his 
bed:  but  taking  the  veil  of  a  nun,  she  calmly  grew  old  in 
the  service  of  God. 

This  emperor  possessed  many  and  great  virtues;  and 
neai'ly  surpassed  in  military  skill  all  his  predecessors:  so 
much  so,  that  he  subdued  the  Vindelici  and  the  Leutici,f 
and  the  other  nations  bordering  on  the  Suevi,  who  alone, 
even  to  the  present  day,  lust  after  pagan  superstitions :  for 
the  Saracens  and  Turks  worship  God  the  Creator,  looking 
upon  Mahomet  not  as  God,  but  as  his  prophet.  But  the 
Vindelici  worship  fortune,  and  putting  her  idol  in  the  most 
eminent  situation,  they  place  a  horn  in  her  right  hand,  filled 
with  that  beverage,  made  of  honey  and  water,  which  by  a 
Greek  term  we  call  "  hydromel."  St.  Jerome  proves,  in  his 
eighteenth  book  on  Isaiah,  that  the  Egyptians  and  almost 
all  the  eastern  nations  do  the  same.  Wherefore  on  the  last 
day  of  November,  sitting  round  in  a  circle,  they  all  taste 
it ;  and  if  they  find  the  horn  full,  they  apj)laud  with  loud 
clamours  :   because  in  the  ensuing   year,   plenty  with   her 

*  It  seems  to  mean  a  page,  or  personal  attendant:  some  MSS.  read 
"alumnus  stumi;"  apparently  the  keeper  of  her  starling.  There  appears 
to  have  been  a  sort  of  romance  on  this  subject.  The  youth  is  said  to 
have  been  a  dwarf,  and  therefore  named  Mimicon  :  his  gigantic  adversary 
was  Roddingar.     V.  Matt.  West,  and  Joh.  Brompton. 

f  These  people  inhabited  the  country  on  and  near  the  southern  coast  of 
tJie  Baltic. 

A.D.  1041.J  ANECDOTES    OP    EMPEROR   HENRY   HI.  209 

brimming  horn  will  fulfil  their  wishes  in  everything :  but 
if  it  be  otherwise,  they  lament.  Henry  made  these  nations 
in  such  wise  tributary  to  him,  that  upon  every  solemnity  on 
which  he  wore  his  crown,  four  of  their  kings  were  obliged 
to  carry  a  cauldron  in  which  flesh  was  boiled,  upon  their 
shoulders,  to  the  kitchen,  by  means  of  levers  passed  through 

Frequently,  when  disengaged  from  the  turmoils  of  his 
empire,  Henry  gave  himself  up  to  good  fellowship  and 
merriment,  and  was  replete  with  humour ;  this  may  be 
sufficiently  proved  by  two  instances.  He  was  so  extremely 
fond  of  his  sister,  who  was  a  nun,  that  he  never  suffered  her 
to  be  from  his  side,  and  her  chamber  was  always  next  his 
own.  As  he  was  on  a  certain  time,  in  consequence  of  a 
winter  remarkable  for  severe  frost  and  snow,  detained  for 
a  long  while  in  the  same  place,  a  certain  clerk  *  about  the 
court,  became  too  familiar  with  the  girl,  and  often  passed  the 
greatest  part  of  the  night  in  her  chamber.  And  although  he 
attempted  to  conceal  his  crime  by  numberless  subterfuges, 
yet  some  one  perceived  it,  for  it  is  difficult  not  to  betray 
guilt  either  by  look  or  action,  and  the  affiiir  becoming 
notorious,  the  emperor  was  the  only  person  in  ignorance, 
and  who  still  believed  his  sister  to  be  chaste.  On  one 
particular  night,  however,  as  they  were  enjoying  their  fond 
embraces,  and  continuing  their  pleasures  longer  than  usual, 
the  morning  dawned  upon  them,  and  behold  snow  had  com- 
pletely covered  the  ground.  The  clerk  fearing  that  he  should 
be  discovered  by  his  track  in  the  snow,  persuades  his  mistress 
to  extricate  him  from  his  difficulty  by  carrying  him  on  her 
back.  She,  regardless  of  modesty  so  that  she  might  escape 
exposure,  took  her  paramour  on  her  back,  and  carried  him  out 
of  the  palace.  It  happened  at  that  moment,  that  the  emperor 
had  risen  for  a  necessary  purpose,  and  looking  through  the 
window  of  his  chamber,  beheld  the  clerk  mounted.  He  was 
stupified  at  the  first  sight,  but  observing  still  more  narrowly, 
he  became  mute  with  shame  and  indignation.  While  he  was 
hesitating  whether  he  should  pass  over  the  crime  unpunished, 

*  Clerk  was  a  general  term  including  every  degree  of  orders,  from  th« 
bishop  do^rnwards  to  the  chanter.  A  story  near  similar  has  hem  told  of 
the  celebrated  Eginhard  and  the  daughter  of  Charlemagne.  V.  Du  Chesne, 
Script.  Franc.  T.  ii. 


210  WILLIAM   OF    MALMESBURT.  Ln.  ii.  c.  12. 

or  openly  reprehend  the  delinquents,  there  happened  an 
opportunity  for  him  to  give  a  vacant  bishopric  to  the  clerk, 
which  he  did  :  but  at  the  same  time  whispered  in  his  ear, 
"  Take  the  bishopric,  but  be  careful  you  do  not  let  women 
carry  you  any  more."  At  the  same  time  he  gave  his  sister 
the  rule  over  a  company  of  nuns,  "  Be  an  abbess,"  said  he, 
"  but  carry  clerks  no  longer."  Both  of  them  were  confused, 
and  feeling  themselves  grievously  stricken  by  so  grave  an 
injunction,  they  desisted  from  a  crime  which  they  thouglit 
revealed  by  God. 

He  had  also  a  clergyman  about  his  palace,  who  abused  the 
depth  of  his  learning  and  the  melody  of  his  voice  by  the 
vicious  propensities  of  the  flesh,  being  extremely  attached  to 
a  girl  of  bad  character,  in  the  town  ;  with  whom  having 
passed  one  festival  night,  he  stood  next  morning  before  the 
emperor  at  mass,  with  countenance  unabashed.  The  emperor 
conceaUng  his  knowledge  of  the  transaction,  commanded  him 
to  prepare  himself  to  read  the  gospel,  that  he  might  be 
gratified  with  the  melody  of  his  voice  :  for  he  was  a  deacon. 
Conscious  of  his  crime,  he  made  use  of  a  multitude  of 
subterfuges,  while  the  emperor,  to  try  his  constancy,  still 
pressed  him  with  messages.  Refusing,  however,  to  the  very 
last,  the  emperor  said,  "  Since  you  will  not  obey  me  in  so 
easy  a  command,  I  banish  you  from  the  whole  of  my 
territories."  The  deacon,  yielding  to  the  sentence,  departed 
directly.  Servants  were  sent  to  follow  him,  and  in  case  he 
should  persist  in  going,  to  bring  him  back  after  he  had  left 
the  city.  Gathering,  therefore,  immediately  all  his  effects 
together,  and  packing  them  up,  he  had  already  gone  a 
considerable  distance,  when  he  was  brought  back,  not 
without  extreme  violence,  and  placed  in  the  presence  of 
Henry,  who  smiled  and  said  :  "  You  have  done  well,  and  I 
applaud  your  integrity  for  valuing  the  fear  of  God  more  than 
your  country,  and  regarding  the  displeasure  of  heaven  more 
than  my  threats.  Accept,  therefore,  the  first  bishopric,  which 
ghall  be  vacant  in  my  empire ;  only  renounce  your  dishonour- 
able amour." 

As  nothing  however  is  lasting  in  human  enjoyments,  I 
shall  not  pass  over  in  silence  a  certain  dreadful  portent 
which  happened  in  hi-s  time.  The  monastery  of  Fulda,  in 
Saxony,  is  celebrated  for  containing  the  body  of  St.  Gall, 

A.D.  1042.T  henry's  beneficence.  211 

and  is  enriched  with  very  ample  territories.  The  abbat  of 
this  place  furnishes  the  emperor  with  sixty  thousand 
warriors  against  his  enemies  ;  and  possesses  from  ancient 
times  the  privilege  of  sitting  at  his  right  hand  on  the  most 
distinguished  festivals.  This  Henry  we  are  speaking  of  was 
celebrating  Pentecost  at  Mentz.  A  little  before  mass,  while 
the  seats  were  preparing  in  the  church,  a  quarrel  arose 
between  the  attendants  of  the  abbat,  and  those  of  the 
archbishop,  which  of  their  masters  should  sit  next  the 
sovereign  :  one  party  alleging  the  dignity  of  the  prelate,  the 
other  ancient  usage.  When  words  made  but  Kttle  for  peace, 
as  the  Germans  and  Teutonians  possess  untractable  spirits, 
they  came  to  blows.  Some  snatched  up  staves,  others  threw 
stones,  while  the  rest  unsheathed  their  swords  :  finally  each 
used  the  weapon  that  his  anger  first  supplied.  Thus  furiously 
contending  in  the  church,  the  pavement  soon  streamed  with 
blood :  but  the  bishops  hastening  forward,  peace  was  restored 
amid  the  remains  of  the  contending  parties.  The  church  was 
cleansed,  and  mass  performed  with  joyful  sound.  But  now 
comes  the  wonder  :  when  the  sequence  was  chanted,  and 
the  choir  paused  at  that  verse,  "  Thou  hast  made  this  day 
glorious  : "  a  voice  in  the  air  replied  aloud,  "  I  have  made 
this  day  contentious."  All  the  others  were  motionless  with 
horror,  but  the  emperor  the  more  diligently  attended  to  his 
occupation,  and  perceiving  the  satisfaction  of  the  enemy  : 
"  You,"  said  he,  "  the  inventor  and  also  the  instigator  of  all 
wickedness,  have  made  this  day  contentious  and  sorrowful  to 
the  proud  ;  but  we,  by  the  grace  of  God,  who  made  it 
glorious,  will  make  it  gracious  to  the  poor."  Beginning  ihe^ 
sequence  afresh,  they  implored  the  grace  of  the  Holy  Spirit 
by  solemn  lamentation.  You  might  suppose  he  had  come 
npon  them,  for  some  were  singing,  others  weeping,  and  all 
beating  their  breasts.  When  mass  was  over,  assembling  the 
poor  by  means  of  his  officers,  he  gave  them  the  whole  of  the 
entertainment  which  had  been  prepared  for  himself  and  his 
courtiers :  the  emperor  placing  the  dishes  before  them, 
standing  at  a  distance  according  to  the  custom  of  servants, 
and  clearing  away  the  fragments. 

In  the  time  of  his  father,  Conrad,  he  had  received  a  silver 
pipe,  such  as  boys  in  sport  spirt  water  with,  from  a  certain 
clerk,  covenanting  to  give  him  a  bishopric,  when  he  should 

p  2 

212  WILLIAM   OF   MAI.MESBURT.  [b.  ii.  c.  12. 

become  emperor.  This,  when  he  was  of  man's  estate,  on  his 
application  he  readily  gave  to  him.  Soon  after  he  was 
confined  to  his  bed  with  severe  sickness :  his  malady 
increasing,  he  lay  for  three  days  insensible  and  speechless, 
while  the  vital  breath  only  palpitated  in  his  breast :  nor  was 
there  any  other  sign  of  life,  than  the  perception  of  a  small 
degree  of  breathing,  on  applying  the  hand  to  his  nostrils. 
The  bishops  being  present,  enjoined  a  fast  for  three  days,  and 
entreated  heaven  with  tears  and  vows,  for  the  life  of  the  king. 
Recovering  by  these  remedies,  as  it  is  right  to  think,  he  sent 
for  the  bishop  whom  he  had  so  improperly  appointed,  and 
deposed  him  by  the  judgment  of  a  council :  confessing,  that 
for  three  whole  days  he  saw  malignant  demons  blowing  fire 
upon  him  through  a  pipe  ;  fire  so  furious  that  ours  in  com- 
parison would  be  deemed  a  jest,  and  have  no  heat :  that 
afterwards  there  came  a  young  man  half  scorched,  bearing  a 
golden  cup  of  immense  size,  full  of  water  ;  and  that  being 
soothed  by  the  sight  of  him,  and  bathed  by  the  water,  the 
flame  was  extinguished,  and  he  recovered  his  health  :  that 
this  young  man  was  St.  Laurence,  the  roof  of  whose  church 
he  had  restored  when  gone  to  decay  ;  and,  among  other 
presents,  had  honoured  it  with  a  golden  chalice. 

Here  many  extraordinary  things  occur,  which  are  reported 
of  this  man  ;  for  instance,  of  a  stag,  which  took  him  on  its 
back,  when  flying  from  his  enemies,  and  carried  him  over  an 
unfordable  river :  and  some  others  which  I  pass  by  because  I 
am  unwilling  to  go  beyond  the  reader's  belief.  He  died  when 
he  had  completed  the  eighteenth  year  of  his  empire,  and  was 
buried  at  Spires,  which  he  re-built,  and  called  by  that  name, 
on  the  site  of  the  very  ancient  and  ruined  Nemetum  :  his 
epitaph  is  as  follows  : 

Caesar,  as  was  tlie  world  once  great, 
Lies  here,  confin'd  in  compass  straight. 
Hence  let  each  mortal  learn  his  doom  ; 
No  glory  can  escape  the  tomb. 
The  flower  of  empire,  erst  so  gay, 
Falls  with  its  Caesar  to  decay, 
And  all  the  odours  which  it  gave 
Sink  prematurely  to  the  grave. 
The  laws  which  sapient  fathers  made, 
A  listless  race  had  dared  evade. 
But  thou  reforming  by  the  school 
Of  Rome,  restur'dst  the  ancient  rule. 

A.D.  1042.  1043]  EDWAUD  THE  CONFESSOR.  213 

Nations  and  regions,  wide  and  far, 
Whom  none  could  subjugate  by  war, 
Quell'd  by  thy  sword's  resistless  strife, 
'1^11^  to  the  arts  of  civil  life. 
What  grief  severe  must  Rome  engross, 
WidowM  at  first  by  Leo's  loss, 
And  next  by  Caesar's  mournful  night, 
Reft  of  her  other  shining  light ; 
Li\dng,  what  region  did  not  dread. 
What  country  not  lament  thee,  dead  1 
So  kind  to  nations  once  subdued, 
So  fierce  to  the  barbarians  rude, 
That,  those  who  fear'd  not,  must  bewail, 
And  such  as  griev'd  not,  fears  assail. 
Rome,  thy  departed  glory  moan, 
And  weep  thy  luminaries  gone. 

This  Leo,  of  whom  the  epitaph  speaks,  had  been  Roman 
pontiff,  called  to  that  eminence  from  being  Bruno  bishop  of 
Spires.  He  was  a  man  of  great  and  admirable  sanctity  ; 
and  the  Romans  celebrate  many  of  his  miracles.  He  died 
before  Henry,  when  he  had  been  five  years  pope. 

CHAP.  xm. 

Of  St.  Edward,  son  of  king  Ethelred.     [a.d.  1042—1066.] 

In  the  year  of  our  Lord's  incarnation  1042,  St.  Edward,  the 
son  of  Ethelred,  assumed  the  sovereignty,  and  held  it  not 
quite  twenty-four  years  ;  he  was  a  man  from  the  simplicity 
of  his  manners  little  calculated  to  govern  ;  but  devoted  to 
God,  and  in  consequence  directed  by  him.  For  while  he 
continued  to  reign,  there  arose  no  popular  commotions,  which 
were  not  immediately  quelled  ;  no  foreign  war  ;  all  was  calm 
and  peaceable  both  at  home  and  abroad  ;  which  is  the  more 
an  object  of  wonder,  because  he  conducted  himself  so  mildly, 
that  he  would  not  even  utter  a  word  of  reproach  to  the  mean- 
est person.  For  when  he  had  once  gone  out  to  hunt,  and  a 
countryman  had  overturned  the  standings  by  which  the  deer 
are  driven  into  the  toils,  struck  with  noble  indignation  he 
exclaimed,  "By  God  and  his  mother,  I  will  serve  you  just 
such  a  turn,  if  ever  it  come  in  my  way."  Here  was  a  noble 
mind,  who  forgot  that  he  was  a  king,  under  such  circum- 
stances, and  could  not  think  himself  allowed  to  injure  a  man 
even  of  the  lowest  condition.     Li  the  meantime,  the  regard 

214  WILLIAM    OF   MALMESBURY.  L^-  "•  c  ]3. 

his  subjects  entertained  for  him  was  extreme,  as  was  also  the 
fear  of  foreigners  ;  for  God  assisted  his  simplicity,  that  he 
might  be  feared,  for  he  knew  not  how  to  be  angry.  But 
however  indolent  or  unassuming  himself  might  be  esteemed, 
he  had  nobles  capable  of  elevating  him  to  the  highest  pitch  : 
for  instance,  Siward,  earl  of  the  Northumbrians  ;  who,  at  his 
command,  engaging  with  Macbeth,  the  Scottish  king,  de- 
prived him  both  of  life  and  of  his  kingdom,  and  placed  on 
the  throne  Malcolm,  who  was  the  son  of  the  king  of  Cum- 
bria :  *  again,  Leofric,  of  Hereford  ;  he,  with  liberal  regard, 
defended  him  against  the  enmity  of  Godwin,  who  trusting  to 
the  consciousness  of  his  own  merits,  paid  little  reverence  to 
the  king.  Leofric  and  his  wife  Godifa,  generous  in  their 
deeds  towards  God,  built  many  monasteries,  as,  Coventry, 
St.  Mary's  at  Stow,  Wenlock,  Leon,  and  some  others  ;  to 
the  rest  he  gave  ornaments  and  estates  ;  to  Coventry  he  con- 
signed his  body,  with  a  very  large  donation  of  gold  and 
silver.  Harold  too,  of  the  West  Saxons,  the  son  of  Godwin ; 
who  by  his  abilities  destroyed  two  brothers,  kings  of  the 
Welsh,  Rees  and  Griffin  ;  and  reduced  all  that  barbarous 
country  to  the  state  of  a  province  under  fealty  to  the  king. 
Nevertheless,  there  were  some  things  which  obscured  the 
glory  of  Edward's  times  :  the  monasteries  were  deprived  of 
their  monks  ;  false  sentences  were  passed  by  depraved  men  ; 
his  mother's  property,  at  his  command,  was  almost  entirely 
taken  from  her.  But  the  injustice  of  these  transactions  was 
extenuated  by  his  favourers  in  the  following  manner :  the 
ruin  of  the  monasteries,  and  the  iniquity  of  the  judges,  are 
said  to  have  taken  place  without  his  knowledge,  through  the 
insolence  of  Godwin  and  his  sons,  who  used  to  laugh  at  the 
easiness  of  the  king  :  but  afterwards,  on  being  apprised  of 
this,  he  severely  avenged  it  by  their  banishment :  his  mother 
had  for  a  long  time  mocked  at  the  needy  state  of  her  son, 
nor  ever  assisted  him  ;  transferring  her  hereditary  hatred  of 
the  father  to  the  child  ;  for  she  had  both  loved  Canute  more 
when  living,  and  more  commended  him  when  dead  :  besides, 
accumulating  money  by  every  method,  she  had  hoarded  it, 
regardless  of  the  poor,  to  whom  she  would  give  nothing,  for 
fear  of  diminisliing  her  heap.     Wherefore  that  which  had 

*  This  brief  allusion  to  Macbeth  rather  disproves  the  hi^orical  acciiracy 
of  Shakespere.     See  the  Saxon  Chronicle. 

A.O.  1043.]  EARL  GODWIN.  215 

been  so  unjustly  gathered  together,  was  not  improperly 
taken  away,  that  it  might  be  of  service  to  the  poor,  and  re- 
plenish the  king's  exchequer.  Though  much  credit  is  to  be 
attached  to  those  who  relate  these  circumstances,  yet  I  find 
her  to  have  been  a  religiously-disposed  woman,  and  to  have 
expended  her  property  on  ornaments  for  the  church  of  Win- 
chester, and  probably  upon  others.*  But  to  return  :  Edward 
receiving  the  mournful  intelligence  of  the  death  of  Hardeca- 
nute,  was  lost  in  uncertainty  what  to  do,  or  whither  to  be- 
take himself.  While  he  was  revolving  many  things  in  his 
mind,  it  occurred  as  the  better  plan  to  submit  his  situation 
to  the  opinion  of  Godwin.  To  Godwin  therefore  he  sent 
messengers,  requesting,  that  he  might  in  security  have  a  con- 
ference with  him.  Godwin,  though  for  a  long  time  hesita- 
ting and  reflecting,  at  length  assented,  and  when  Edward 
came  to  him  and  endeavoured  to  fall  at  his  feet,  he  raised 
him  up  ;  and  when  relating  the  death  of  Hardecanute,  and 
begging  his  assistance  to  effect  his  return  to  Normandy,  God- 
win made  him  the  greatest  promises.  He  said,  it  was  better 
for  him  to  live  with  credit  in  power,  than  to  die  ingloriously 
in  exile :  that  he  was  the  son  of  Ethelred,  the  grandson  of 
Edgar  :  that  the  kingdom  was  his  due  :  that  he  was  come  to 
mature  age,  disciplined  by  difliculties,  conversant  in  the  art 
of  well-governing  from  his  years,  and  knowing,  from  his  for- 
mer poverty,  how  to  feel  for  the  miseries  of  the  people  :  if  he 
thought  fit  to  rely  on  him,  there  could  be  no  obstacle  ;  for 
his  authority  so  preponderated  in  England,  that  wherever  he 
inclined,  there  fortune  was  sure  to  favour  :  if  he  assisted 
him,  none  would  dare  to  murmur  ;  and  just  so  was  the  con- 
trary side  of  the  question  :  let  him  then  only  covenant  a  firm 
friendship  with  himself ;  undiminished  honours  for  his  sons, 
and  a  marriage  with  his  daughter,  and  he  who  was  now 
shipwrecked  almost  of  life  and  hope,  and  imploring  the  as  • 
sistance  of  another,  should  shortly  see  himself  a  king. 

There  was  nothing  which  Edward  would  not  promise,  from 
the  exigency  of  the  moment :  so,  pledging  fidelity  on  both 
sides,  he  confirmed  by  oath  every  thing  which  was  demanded. 
Soon  after  convening  an  assembly  at  Gillingham,   Godwin, 

♦  This  seems  the  foundation  of  the  fable  of  Emma  and  the  Plough- 
shares :  as  the  first  apparent  promulgator  of  it  was  a  constant  reader  and 
amplifier  of  Malmesbury.    See  Ric.  Divisiensis,  MS.  C.  C.  C.  Cant.  No.  339. 

216  AVILLIAM    OF    MALMESBURY.  [b.  ir  c.  13, 

unfolding  his  reasons,  caused  liim  to  be  received  as  king,  and 
homage  was  paid  to  him  by  all.  He  was  a  man  of  ready  wit, 
and  spoke  fluently  in  the  vernacular  tongue  ;  powerful  in 
speech,  powerful  in  bringing  over  the  people  to  whatever  he 
desired.  Some  yielded  to  his  authority  ;  some  were  influ- 
enced by  presents  ;  others  admitted  the  right  of  Edward  ; 
and  the  few  who  resisted  in  defiance  of  justice  and  equity, 
were  carefully  marked,  and  afterwards  driven  out  of 

Edward  was  crowned  with  great  pomp  at  Winchester,  on 
Easter-day,  and  was  instructed  by  Eadsine,  *  the  archbishop, 
in  the  sacred  duties  of  governing.  This,  at  the  time,  he 
treasured  up  with  readiness  in  his  memory,  and  afterwards 
displayed  in  the  holiness  of  his  conduct.  The  above-men- 
tioned Eadsine,  in  the  following  year,  falling  into  an  incurable 
disease,  appointed  as  his  successor  Siward,  abbat  of  Abing- 
don; communicating  his  design  only  to  the  king  and  the 
earl,  lest  any  improper  person  should  aspire  to  so  great  an 
eminence,  either  by  solicitation  or  by  purchase.  Shortly 
after  the  king  took  Edgitha.  the  daughter  of  Godwin,  to 
wife ;  a  woman  whose  bosom  was  the  school  of  every  liberal 
art,  though  little  skilled  in  earthly  matters :  on  seeing  her,  if 
you  were  amazed  at  her  erudition,  you  must  absolutely  lan- 
guish for  the  purity  of  her  mind,  and  the  beauty  of  her  per- 
son. Both  in  her  husband's  life-time,  and  afterwards,  she 
was  not  entirely  free  from  suspicion  of  dishonour ;  but  when 
dying,  in  the  time  of  king  William,  she  voluntarily  satisfied 
the  by-standers  of  her  unimpaired  chastity,  by  an  oath. 
When  she  became  his  wife,  the  king  acted  towards  her  so 
delicately,  that  he  neither  removed  her  from  his  bed,  nor 
knew  her  after  the  manner  of  men.  I  have  not  been  able  to 
discover,  whether  he  acted  thus  from  dislike  to  her  family, 
which  he  prudently  dissembled  from  the  exigency  of  the 
times,  or  out  of  pure  regard  to  chastity:  yet  it  is  most 
notoriously  affirmed,  that  he  never  violated  his  purity  by 
connexion  with  any  woman. 

But  since  I  have  gotten  thus  far,  I  wish  to  admonish  my 
reader,  that  the  track  of  my  history  is  here  but  dubious, 

•  "  Eadsine  was  translated  from  Winchester  to  Canterbury  in  1038.  The 
Saxon  Chronicle  (p.  416)  states,  that  he  consecrated  Edward,  at  Winches- 
ter, on  Easter  day,  and  before  all  people  well  admonished  him." — Hardy. 

A.D.  1044-1052.]  PARTIES   AND   FEUDS.  217 

because  the  truth  of  the  facts  hangs  in  suspense.  It  is  to  be 
observed,  that  the  king  had  sent  for  several  Normans,  who 
had  formerly  slightly  ministered  to  his  wants  when  in  exile. 
Among  these  was  Robert,  whom,  from  being  a  monk  of 
Jumitges,  he  had  appointed  bishop  of  London,  and  after- 
wards archbishop  of  Canterbury.  The  English  of  our  times 
vilify  this  person,  together  with  the  rest,  as  being  the  im- 
peacher  of  Godwin  and  his  sons ;  the  sower  of  discord ;  the 
purchaser  of  the  archbishopric:  they  say  too,  that  Godwin 
and  his  sons  were  men  of  liberal  mind,  the  stedfast  pro- 
moters and  defenders  of  the  government  of  Edward;  and 
that  it  was  not  to  be  wondered  at,  if  they  were  hurt  at  see- 
ing men  of  yesterday,  and  strangers,  preferred  to  themselves : 
still,  that  they  never  uttered  even  a  harsh  word  against  the 
king,  whom  they  had  formerly  exalted  to  the  throne.  On 
the  opposite  hand  the  Normans  thus  defended  themselves : 
they  allege,  that  both  himself  and  his  sons  acted  with  the 
greatest  want  of  respect,  as  well  as  fidelity,  to  the  king  and 
his  party  ;  aiming  at  equal  sovereignty  with  him  ;  often  ridi- 
culing his  simplicity ;  often  hurling  the  shafts  of  their  wit 
against  him :  that  the  Normans  could  not  endure  this,  but 
endeavoured  to  weaken  their  power  as  much  as  possible; 
and  that  God  manifested,  at  last,  with  what  kind  of  purity 
Godwin  had  served  him.  For,  after  his  piratical  ravages, 
of  which  we  shall  speak  hereafter,  when  he  had  been  rein- 
stated in  his  original  favour,  and  was  sitting  with  the  king 
at  table,  the  conversation  turning  on  Alfred,  the  king's 
brotlier,  "  I  perceive,"  said  he,  "  O  king,  that  on  every 
recollection  of  your  brother,  you  regard  me  with  angry  coun- 
tenance ;  but  God  forbid  that  I  should  swallow  this  morsel, 
if  I  am  conscious  of  any  thing  which  might  tend,  either  to 
his  danger  or  your  disadvantage."  On  saying  this,  he  was 
choked  with  the  piece  he  had  put  into  his  mouth,  and  closed 
his  eyes  in  death :  being  dragged  from  under  the  table  by 
Harold  his  son,  who  stood  near  the  king,  he  was  buried  in 
the  cathedral  of  Winchester. 

On  account  of  these  feuds,  as  I  have  observed,  my  narra- 
tive labours  under  difficulties,  for  I  cannot  precisely  ascertain 
the  truth,  by  reason  either  of  the  natural  dislike  of  these 
nations  for  each  other,  or  because  the  English  disdainfully 
bear  with  a  superior,  and  the  Normans  cannot  endure  an 

218  WILLIAM    OF    MALMESBURY.  [b.  ii.  c.  13. 

equal.  In  the  following  book,  however,  when  the  oppor- 
tunity occurs  for  relating  the  arrival  of  the  Normans  in 
England,  I  shall  proceed  to  speak  of  their  habits ;  at  present 
I  shall  glance,  with  all  possible  truth,  at  the  grudge  of  the 
king  against  Godwin  and  his  sons. 

Eustace,  *  earl  of  Boulogne,  the  father  of  Godfrey  and 
Baldwin,  who,  in  our  times,  were  kings  of  Jerusalem,  had 
married  the  king's  sister,  Goda,  who  had  borne  a  son,  named 
Ralph,  to  her  former  husband,  Walter  of  Mantes.  This  son, 
at  that  time  earl  of  Hereford,  was  both  indolent  and  cow- 
ardly ;  he  had  been  beaten  in  battle  by  the  Welsh,  and  left 
his  county  and  the  city,  together  with  the  bishop,  to  be  con- 
sumed with  fire  by  the  enemy ;  the  disgrace  of  which  trans- 
action was  wiped  oflT  by  the  valour  of  Harold,  who  arrived 
opportunely.  Eustace,  therefore,  crossing  the  channel,  from 
Whitsand  to  Dover,  went  to  king  Edward  on  some  unknown 
business.  When  the  conference  was  over,  and  he  had  ob- 
tained his  request,  he  was  returning  through  Canterbury,  f 
where  one  of  his  harbingers,  dealing  too  fiercely  with  a  citi- 
zen, and  demanding  quarters  with  blows,  rather  than  en- 
treaty or  remuneration,  irritated  him  to  such  a  degree,  that 
he  put  him  to  death.  Eustace,  on  being  informed  of  the 
fact,  proceeded  with  all  his  retinue  to  revenge  the  murder  of 
his  servant,  and  killed  the  perpetrator  of  the  crime,  together 
with  eighteen  others :  but  the  citizens  flying  to  arms,  he  lost 
twenty-one  of  his  people,  and  had  multitudes  wounded; 
himself  and  one  more  with  diflaculty  making  their  escape 
during  the  confusion.  Thence  returning  to  court  and  pro- 
curing a  secret  audience,  he  made  the  most  of  his  own  story, 
and  excited  the  anger  of  the  king  against  the  English.  God- 
win, being  summoned  by  messengers,  arrived  at  the  palace. 

*  Eustace  II,  sumamed  Aux  Grenons.  He  succeeded  his  father, 
Eustace  I,  in  1049  ;  and  married,  in  1050,  Goda,  daughter  of  king  Ethel- 
bert,  and  widow  of  Gauthier  comte  de  Mantes,  by  whom  he  had  no  issue ; 
but  by  his  wife  Ida  he  left  three  sons;  Eustace,  who  succeeded  him, 
Godefroi,  created,  in  1076,  marquis  d'Anvers  by  the  emperor  Henry  IV, 
and  afterwards  due  de  Bouillon,  was  elected  king  of  Jerusalem  in  1099, 
(23rd  July);  and,  dying  18th  July,  1100,  was  succeeded  by  his  brother 
Baudouin,  comte  d'Edesse. — Habdy. 

f  He  means  Dover ;  according  to  the  Saxon  Chronicle,  from  which  he 
borrows  the  account.  Eustace  stopped  at  Canterbury  to  refresh  himself* 
aiid  his  people,  and  afterwards  set  out  for  Dover.— Sax.  Chron.  page  421; 


A. p.  1050.]  GODWm   BANISHED.  219 

When  the  business  was  related,  and  the  king  was  dwelling 
more  particularly  on  the  insolence  of  the  citizens  of  Canter- 
bury, this  intelligent  man  perceived  that  sentence  ought  not 
to  be  pronounced,  since  the  allegations  had  only  been  heard 
on  one  side  of  the  question.  In  consequence,  though  the 
king  ordered  him  directly  to  proceed  with  an  army  into 
Kent,  to  take  signal  vengeance  on  the  people  of  Canterbury, 
still  he  refused  :  both  because  he  saw  with  displeasure,  that 
all  foreigners  were  gaining  fast  upon  the  favour  of  the  king ; 
and  because  he  was  desirous  of  evincing  his  regard  to  his 
countrymen.  Besides,  his  opinion  was  more  accordant,  as  it 
should  seem,  with  equity,  which  was,  that  the  principal 
people  of  that  town  should  be  mildly  summoned  to  the  king's 
court,  on  account  of  the  tumult;  if  they  could  exculpate 
themselves,  they  should  depart  unhurt;  but  if  they  could 
not,  they  must  make  atonement,  either  by  money,  or  by  cor- 
poral punishment,  to  the  king,  whose  peace  they  had  broken, 
and  to  the  earl,  whom  they  had  injured:  moreover,  that  it 
appeared  unjust  to  pass  sentence  on  those  people  unheard, 
who  had  a  more  especial  right  to  protection.  After  tliis  the 
conference  broke  up ;  Godwin  paying  little  attention  to  the 
indignation  of  the  king,  as  merely  momentary.  In  conse- 
quence of  this,  the  nobility  of  the  whole  kingdom  were  com- 
manded to  meet  at  Gloucester,  that  the  business  might  there 
be  canvassed  in  full  assembly.  Thither  came  those,  at  that 
time,  most  renowned  Northumbrian  earls,  Siward  and 
Leofric,  and  all  the  nobility  of  England.  Godwin  and  his 
sons  alone,  who  knew  that  they  were  suspected,  not  deeming 
it  prudent  to  be  present  unarmed,  halted  with  a  strong  force 
at  Beverstone,  giving  out  that  they  had  assembled  an  army 
to  restrain  the  Welsh,  who,  meditating  independence  on  the 
king,  had  fortified  a  town  in  the  county  of  Hereford,  where 
Sweyn,  one  of  the  sons  of  Godwin,  was  at  that  time  in  com- 
mand. The  Welsh,  however,  who  had  come  beforehand  to 
the  conference,  had  accused  them  of  a  conspiracy,  and  ren- 
dered them  odious  to  the  whole  court;  so  that  a  rumour 
prevailed,  that  the  king's  army  would  attack  them  in  that 
very  place.  Godwin,  hearing  this,  sounded  the  alarm  to  his 
party ;  told  them  that  they  should  not  purposely  withstand 
tlieir  sovereign  lord ;  but  if  it  came  to  hostilities,  they  should 
not  retreat  without  avenging  themselves.     And,  if  better 

220  WILLIAM   OF    MALMESBURr.  [b.  u.  c.  13. 

counsels  had  not  intervened,  a  dreadful  scene  of  misery,  and 
a  worse  than  civil  war,  would  have  ensued.  Some  small 
share  of  tranquillity,  however,  being  restored,  it  was  ordered 
that  the  council  should  be  again  assembled  at  London ;  and 
that  Svveyn,  the  son  of  Godwin,  should  appease  the  king's 
anger  by  withdrawing  himself:  that  Godwin  and  Harold 
should  come  as  speedily  as  possible  to  the  council,  with  tliis 
condition:  that  they  should  be  unarmed,  bring  with  them 
only  twelve  men,  and  deliver  up  to  the  king  the  command  of 
the  troops  which  they  had  throughout  England.  This  on 
the  other  hand  they  refused ;  observing,  that  they  could  not 
go  to  a  party-meeting  without  sureties  and  pledges ;  that 
they  would  obey  their  lord  in  the  surrender  of  the  soldiers, 
as  well  as  in  every  thing  else,  except  risking  their  lives  and 
reputation :  should  they  come  unarmed,  the  loss  of  life  might 
be  apprehended;  if  attended  with  few  followers,  it  would 
detract  from  their  glory.  The  king  had  made  up  his  mind 
too  firmly,  to  listen  to  the  entreaties  of  those  who  interceded 
with  him ;  wherefore  an  edict  was  published,  that  they 
should  depart  from  England  within  five  days.  Godwin  and 
Sweyn  retired  to  Flanders,  and  Harold  to  Ireland.  His  earl- 
dom was  given  to  Elgar,  the  son  of  Leofric,  a  man  of  active 
habits ;  who,  receiving,  governed  it  with  ability,  and  readily 
restored  it  to  him  on  his  return ;  and  afterwards,  on  the 
death  of  Godwin,  when  Harold  had  obtained  the  dukedom 
of  his  father,  he  boldly  reclaimed  it,  though,  by  the  accusa- 
tion of  his  enemies,  he  was  banished  for  a  time.  All  the 
property  of  the  queen  was  seized,  and  herself  delivered  into 
the  custody  of  the  king's  sister  at  Wherwell,  lest  she  alone 
should  be  void  of  care,  wliilst  all  her  relations  were  sighing 
for  their  country. 

The  following  year,  the  exiles,  each  emerging  from  his 
station,  were  now  cruising  the  British  sea,  infesting  the 
coast  with  piracy,  and  carrying  off  rich  booty  from  the  sub- 
stance of  their  countrymen.  Against  these,  on  the  king's 
part,  more  than  sixty  sail  lay  at  anchor.  Earls  Odo  and 
Ralph,  relations  of  the  king,  were  commanders  of  the  fleet. 
Nor  did  this  emergency  find  Edward  himself  inactive  ;  since 
he  would  pass  the  night  on  ship-board,  and  watch  the  sallies 
of  the  plunderers  ;  diligently  compensating,  by  the  wisdom 
of  his  counsel,  for  that  personal  service  which  age  and  in- 


A.D.  1051.]  RETURN  OF  GODWIN.  221 

firmity  denied.  But  when  they  had  approached  each  other, 
and  the  conflict  was  on  the  eve  of  commencing,  a  very  thick 
mist  arose,  which  in  a  moment  obscured  the  sight  of  the 
opponents,  and  repressed  the  pitiable  audacity  of  men.  At 
last  Godwin  and  his  companions  were  driven,  by  the  im- 
petuosity of  the  wind,  to  the  port  they  had  left  ;  and  not  long 
after  returning  to  their  own  country  with  pacific  dispositions, 
they  found  the  king  at  London,  and  were  received  by  him  on 
soliciting  pardon.  The  old  man,  skilled  in  leading  the  minds 
of  his  audience  by  his  reputation  and  his  eloquence,  dex- 
terously exculpated  himself  from  every  thing  laid  to  his 
charge  ;  and  in  a  short  time  prevailed  so  far,  as  to  recover 
his  honours,  undiminished,  for  himself  and  for  his  children  ; 
to  drive  all  the  Normans,  branded  with  ignominy,  from  Eng- 
land ;  and  to  get  sentence  passed  on  Eobert,  the  archbishop, 
and  his  accomplices,  for  disturbing  the  order  of  the  king- 
dom and  stimulating  the  royal  mind  against  his  subjects. 
But  he,  not  waiting  for  violent  measures,  had  fled  of  his  own 
accord  while  the  peace  was  in  agitation,  and  proceeding  to 
Rome,  and  appealing  to  the  apostolical  see  on  his  case,  as  he 
was  returning  through  Jumieges,  he  died  there,  and  was 
buried  in  the  church  of  St.  Mary,  which  he  chiefly  had  built 
at  vast  expense.  While  he  was  yet  living,  Stigand,  who 
was  bishop  of  Winchester,  forthwith  invaded  the  archbishopric 
of  Canterbury  :  a  prelate  of  notorious  ambition,  who  sought 
after  honours  too  keenly,  and  who,  through  desire  of  a 
higher  dignity,  deserting  the  bishopric  of  the  South  Saxons, 
had  occupied  Winchester,  which  he  held  with  the  arch- 
bishopric. For  this  reason  he  was  never  honoured  with  the 
pall  by  the  papal  see,  except  that  one  Benedict,  the  usurper, 
as  it  were,  of  the  papacy,  sent  him  one  ;  either  corrupted  by 
money  to  grant  a  thing  of  this  kind,  or  else  because  bad 
people  are  pleased  to  gratify  others  of  the  same  description. 
But  he,  through  the  zeal  of  the  fiiithful,  being  expelled  by 
Nicholas,  who  legally  assumed  the  papacy  from  being  bishop 
of  Florence,  laid  aside  the  title  he  so  little  deserved.  Sti- 
gand, moreover,  in  the  time  of  king  William,  degraded  by 
the  Roman  cardinals  and  condemned  to  perpetual  imprison- 
ment, could  not  fill  up  the  measure  of  his  insatiable  avidity 
even  in  death.  For  on  his  decease,  a  small  key  wns  dis- 
covered among  his  secret  recesses,  which  on  being  applied  to 

222  WILLIAM   OF    MALMESBURY.  [b.  ii.  c.  13. 

the  lock  of  a  chamber-cabinet,  gave  evidence  of  papers,  de- 
scribing immense  treasures,  and  in  which  were  noted  both 
the  quality  and  the  quantity  of  the  precious  metals  which 
this  greedy  pilferer  had  hidden  on  all  his  estates  :  but  of  this 
hereafter  :  I  shall  now  complete  the  history  of  Godwin  which 
I  had  begun. 

When  he  was  a  young  man  he  had  Canute's  sister  to  wife, 
by  whom  he  had  a  son,  who  in  his  early  youth,  while  proudly 
curveting  on  a  horse  which  his  grandfather  had  given  him, 
was  carried  into  the  Thames,  and  perished  in  the  stream  : 
his  mother,  too,  paid  the  penalty  of  her  cruelty ;  being  killed 
by  a  stroke  of  lightning.  For  it  is  reported,  that  she  was  in 
the  habit  of  purchasing  companies  of  slaves  in  England,  and 
sending  them  into  Denmark  ;  more  especially  girls,  whose 
beauty  and  age  rendered  them  more  valuable,  that  she  might 
accumulate  money  by  this  horrid  traffic.  After  her  death, 
he  married  another  wife,*  whose  descent  I  have  not  been 
able  to  trace  ;  by  her  he  had  Harold,  Sweyn,  Wulnod, 
Tosty,  Girth,  and  Leofwine.  Harold  became  king  for  a  few 
months  after  Edward  ;  and  being  overcome  by  William  at 
Hastings,  there  lost  his  life  and  kingdom,  together  with  his 
two  younger  brothers.  Wulnod,  given  by  his  father  as  an 
hostage,  was  sent  over  to  Normandy  by  king  Edward,  where 
he  remained  all  that  king's  time  in  inextricable  captivity ;  and 
being  sent  back  into  England  during  William's  reign,  grew 
old  in  confinement  at  Salisbury  :  Sweyn  being  of  an  obsti- 
nate disposition,  and  faithless  to  the  king,  frequently  revolted 
from  his  father,  and  his  brother  Harold,  and  turning  pirate, 
tarnished  the  virtues  of  his  forefathers,  by  his  depredations 
on  the  coast :  at  last  struck  with  remorse  for  the  murder  of 
Bruno,  f  a  relation,  or  as  some  say,  his  brother,  he  went  to 
Jerusalem,  and  returning  thence  was  surprised  by  the  Sara- 
cens, and  put  to  death  :  Tosty,  after  the  death  of  Si  ward, 
was  preferred  to  the  earldom  of  Northumbria  by  king  Ed- 

•  Earl  Godwin's  second  wife's  nantie  was  Gytha.  (Saxon  Chron.  and 
Flor.  Wigom.) — Hardy. 

+  Sweyn  had  debauched  an  abbess,  and  being  enraged  that  he  was  not 
allowed  to  retain  her  as  his  wife,  he  fled  to  Flanders.  Shortly  after  he 
returned,  and  intreated  Bruno  or  Beom  to  accompany  him  to  the  king,  and 
to  intercede  for  his  pardon  :  but  it  should  seem  this  was  a  mere  pretence  ; 
as  he  forced  him  on  ship-board,  and  then  put  him  to  death.  V.  Flor. 
Wigom,  A.D.  1049.     Chron.  Sax.  a.d.  1046,  p.  419. 

AD.  1065.]  Godwin's  family.  223 

ward,  and  presided  over  that  province  for  nearly  ten  years  ; 
at  the  end  of  which  he  impelled  the  Northumbrians  to  rebel, 
by  the  asperity  of  his  manners.  For  finding  him  unattended, 
they  drove  him  from  the  district  ;  not  deeming  it  proper  to 
kill  him,  from  respect  to  his  dignity  :  but  they  put  to  death 
his  attendants  both  English  and  Danes,  appropriating  to 
their  own  use,  his  horses,  his  arms,  and  liis  effects.  As  soon 
as  this  rumour,  and  the  distracted  state  of  the  country  reached 
the  king,  Harold  set  forward  to  avenge  the  outrage.  The 
Northumbrians,  though  not  inferior  in  point  of  numbers,  yet 
preferring  peace,  excused  themselves  to  him  for  the  transac- 
tion ;  averring,  that  they  were  a  people  free-born,  and  freely 
educated,  and  unable  to  put  up  with  the  cruelty  of  any 
prince  ;  that  they  had  been  taught  by  their  ancestors  either 
to  be  free,  or  to  die  ;  did  the  king  wish  them  to  be  obedient, 
he  should  appoint  Morcar,  the  son  of  Elgar,  to  preside  over 
them,  who  would  experience  how  cheerfully  they  could  obey, 
provided  they  were  treated  with  gentleness.  On  hearing 
this,  Harold,  who  regarded  the  quiet  of  the  country  more 
than  the  advantage  of  his  brother,  recalled  his  army,  and, 
after  waiting  on  the  king,  settled  the  earldom  on  Morcar. 
Tosty,  enraged  against  every  one,  retired  with  his  wife  and 
children  to  Flanders,  and  continued  there  till  the  death  of 
Edward  :  but  this  I  shall  delay  mentioning,  while  I  record 
what,  as  I  have  learned  from  ancient  men,  happened  in  his 
time  at  Rome. 

Pope  Gregory  the  Sixth,*  first  called  Gratian,  was  a  man 
of  equal  piety  and  strictness.  He  found  the  power  of  the 
Roman  pontificate  so  reduced  by  the  negligence  of  his  pre- 
decessors, that,  with  the  exception  of  a  few  neighbouring 
towns,  and  the  offerings  of  the  faithful,  he  had  scarcely  any- 
thing whereon  to  subsist.  The  cities  and  possessions  at  a 
distance,  which  were  the  property  of  the  church,  were  for- 
cibly seized  by  plunderers ;  the  public  roads  and  highways 
throughout  all  Italy  were  thronged  with  robbers  to  such  •  a 
degree,  that  no  pilgrim  could  pass  in  safety  unless  strongly 

•  "  Pagi  places  the  commencement  of  Gregory's  papacy  in  May  1044, 
but  Ughelli  cites  a  charter  in  which  the  month  of  August,  1045,  is  stated 
to  be  in  the  first  year  of  his  pontificate.  He  was  deposed  at  a  council  held 
at  Sutri,  on  Christmas-day,  a.d.  1046,  for  having  obtained  the  holy  see  by 
gimony.  Mr.  Sharpe  remarks  that  Malmesbury's  character  of  this  pope  is 
considered  as  apocryphal.   Compare  Rodul  Glaber,  lib.  v.  c.  5." — Hardy. 

224  WILLIAM   OP   MALMESBURY.  [B.n.c.l3. 

guarded.  Swarms  of  thieves  beset  every  path,  nor  could 
the  traveller  devise  any  method  of  escaping  them.  Their 
rage  was  equally  bent  against  the  poor  and  the  rich ;  en- 
treaty or  resistance  were  alike  unavailing.  The  journey  to 
Kome  was  discontinued  by  every  nation,  as  each  had  much 
rather  contribute  his  money  to  the  churches  in  his  own 
country,  than  feed  a  set  of  plunderers  with  the  produce  of 
his  labours.  And  what  was  the  state  of  that  city  which  of 
old  was  the  only  dwelling-place  of  holiness  ?  Why  there  an 
abandoned  set  of  knaves  and  assassins  thronged  the  very 
forum.  If  any  one  by  stratagem  eluded  the  people  who  lay 
in  wait  upon  the  road,  from  a  desire  even  at  the  peril  of  de- 
struction to  see  the  church  of  the  apostle ;  yet  then,  encoun- 
tering these  robbers,  he  was  never  able  to  return  home  with- 
out the  loss  either  of  property  or  of  life.  Even  over  the 
very  bodies  of  the  holy  apostles  and  martyrs,  even  on  the  sacred 
altars  were  swords  unsheathed,  and  the  oiferings  of  pilgrims, 
ere  well  laid  out  of  their  hands,  were  snatched  away  and 
consumed  in  drunkenness  and  fornication.  By  such  evils 
was  the  papacy  of  Gregory  beset.  At  first  he  began  to  deal 
gently  with  his  subjects ;  and,  as  became  a  pontiff,  rather  by 
love  than  by  terror ;  he  repressed  the  delinquents  more  by 
words  than  by  blows ;  he  entreated  the  townsmen  to  abstain 
from  the  molestation  of  pilgrims,  and  the  plunder  of  sacred 
offerings.  The  one,  he  said,  was  contrary  to  nature,  that 
the  man  who  breathed  the  common  air  could  not  enjoy  the 
common  peace ;  that  Christians  surely  ought  to  have  liberty 
of  proceeding  whither  they  pleased  among  Christians,  since 
they  were  all  of  the  same  household,  all  united  by  the  tie  of 
the  same  blood,  redeemed  by  the  same  price :  the  other,  he 
said,  was  contrary  to  the  command  of  God,  who  had 
ordained,  that  "  they  who  served  at  the  altar,  should  live  by 
the  altar ;"  moreover,  that  "  the  house  of  God  ought  to  be 
the  house  of  prayer,  not  a  den  of  thieves,"  nor  an  assembly 
of  gladiators ;  that  they  should  allow  the  offerings  to  go  to 
the  use  of  the  priests,  or  the  support  of  the  poor ;  that  he 
would  provide  for  those  persons  whom  want  had  compelled 
to  plunder,  by  giving  them  some  honest  employment  to  pro- 
cure their  subsistence;  that  such  as  were  instigated  by 
avaricious  desire,  should  desist  immediately  for  the  love  of 
God  and  the  credit  of  the  world.     He  invited,  by  mandates 

A  D.  1065.J  CHAHACTER  OF  GREGORY  VI.  225 

and  epistles,  those  who  had  invaded  the  patrimony  of  the 
church,  to  restore  Avhat  did  not  belong  to  them,  or  else  to 
prove  in  the  Roman  senate,  that  they  held  it  justly ;  if  they 
would  do  neither,  they  must  be  told  that  they  were  no  longer 
members  of  the  church,  since  they  opposed  St.  Peter,  the 
head  of  the  church,  and  his  vicar.  Perpetually  haranguing 
to  this  effect,  and  little  or  nothing  profiting  by  it,  he  endea- 
voured to  cure  the  inveterate  disorder  by  having  recourse  to 
harsher  remedies.  He  then  separated  from  the  body  of  the 
church,  by  the  brand  of  excommunication,  all  who  were 
guilty  of  such  practices,  and  even  those  who  associated  or 
conversed  with  the  delinquents.  Though  he  acted  strictly 
according  to  his  duty,  yet  his  diligence  in  this  business  had 
well  nigh  proved  his  destruction ;  for  as  one  says,  "  He  who 
accuses  a  mocker,  makes  himself  an  enemy,"  so  the  aban- 
doned crew  began  to  kick  against  this  gentle  admonition ; 
to  utter  their  threats  aloud ;  to  clash  their  arms  around 
the  walls  of  the  city,  so  as  nearly  even  to  kill  the  pope. 
Finding  it  noAv  absolutely  necessary  to  cut  short  the  evil, 
he  procured  arms  and  horses  from  every  side,  and  equipped 
troops  of  horse  and  foot.  Taking  possession,  in  the  first 
place,  of  the  church  of  St.  Peter,  he  either  killed  or  put 
to  flight  the  plunderers  of  the  oblations.  As  fortune 
appeared  to  favour  his  designs,  he  proceeded  farther;  and 
despatching  all  who  dared  resist,  restored  to  their  original 
jurisdiction  all  the  estates  and  towns  which  had  been  for  a 
considerable  time  lost.  In  this  manner,  j)eace,  which  had 
been  long  driven  into  banishment  by  the  negligence  of  many, 
was  restored  to  the  country  by  the  exertions  of  an  indivi- 
dual. Pilgrims  now  began  securely  to  travel  on  the  public 
ways,  which  had  been  deserted ;  they  feasted  their  eyes  with 
pleasure  on  the  ancient  wonders  within  the  city ;  and,  hav- 
ing made  their  ofierings,  they  returned  home  with  songs  of 
joy.  In  the  meantime  the  common  people  of  Rome,  who 
had  been  accustomed  to  live  by  theft,  began  to  call  him  san- 
guinary, and  not  worthy  to  offer  sacrifice  to  God,  since  he 
was  stained  by  so  many  murders ;  and,  as  it  generally  hap- 
pens that  the  contagion  of  slander  spreads  universally,  even 
the  cardinals  themselves  joined  in  the  sentiments  of  the  peo- 
ple J  so  that,  when  this  holy  man  was  confined  by  the  sick- 
ness which  proved  his  death,  they,  after  consulting  among 


226  WILLIAM   OF   MALMESBURY.  [e.  n,  c.  13. 

themselves,  with  matchless  insolence  recommended  him  not 
to  think  of  ordering  himself  to  be  buried  in .  the  church  of 
St.  Peter  with  the  rest  of  the  popes,  since  he  had  polluted 
his  office  by  being  accessory  to  the  death  of  so  many  men. 
Resuming  spirit,  however,  and  sternly  regarding  them,  he 
addressed  them  in  the  following  manner : 

"  If  you  possessed  either  a  single  spark  of  human  reason, 
or  of  the  knowledge  of  divine  truth,  you  would  hardly  have 
approached  your  pontiff  with  so  inconsiderate  an  address  ; 
for,  throughout  my  whole  life,  I  have  dissipated  my  own 
patrimony  for  your  advantage,  and  at  last  have  sacrificed  the 
applause  of  the  world  for  your  rescue.  If  any  other  persons 
were  to  allege  what  you  urge  in  defamation  of  me,  it  would 
become  you  to  silence  them  by  explaining  away  the  false 
opinions  of  fools.  For  whom,  I  pray  you,  have  I  laid  up 
treasure  ?  For  myself  perhaps  ?  and  yet  I  already  possessed 
the  treasures  of  my  predecessors,  which  were  enough  for 
any  man's  covetousness.  To  whom  have  I  restored  safety 
and  liberty  ?  You  will  reply,  to  myself  perhaps  ?  And  yet 
I  was  adored  by  the  people,  and  did,  without  restraint,  what- 
ever I  pleased ;  entire  orations  teemed  with  my  praises ; 
every  day  resounded  my  applause.  These  praises  and  these 
applauses  have  been  lost  to  me,  through  my  concern  for  your 
poverty.  Towards  you  I  turned  my  thoughts;  and  found 
that  I  must  adopt  severer  measures.  A  sacrilegious  robber 
fattened  on  the  produce  of  your  property,  while  your  subsist- 
ence was  only  from  day  to  day.  He,  from  the  offerings  be- 
longing to  you,  was  clad  in  costly  silk ;  while  you,  in  mean 
and  tattered  clothing,  absolutely  grieved  my  sight.  In  con- 
sequence, when  I  could  endure  this  no  longer,  I  acted  with 
hostility  to  others,  that  I  might  get  credit  for  the  clergy, 
though  at  the  loss  of  the  citizens.  However,  I  now  find  I 
have  lavished  my  favours  on  the  ungrateful ;  for  you  publicly 
proclaim  what  others  mutter  only  in  secret.  I  approve,  in- 
deed, your  freedom,  but  I  look  in  vain  for  your  affection.  A 
dying  parent  is  persecuted  by  his  sons  concerning  his  burial. 
Will  you  deny  me  the  house  common  to  all  living?  The 
harlot,  the  usurer,  the  robber,  are  not  forbidden  an  entrance 
to  the  church,  and  do  you  refuse  it  to  the  pope  ?  What  sig- 
nifies it  whether  the  dead  or  the  living  enter  the  sanctuary, 
except  it  be,  that  the  Kving  is  subject  to  many  temptations, 

A.D.1065.]  CHARACTER  OP  GREGORY  VI.  227 

SO  that  he  cannot  be  free  from  spot  even  in  the  church  ;  often 
finding  matter  of  sin  in  the  very  place  where  he  had  come  to 
wash  it  away ;  whereas  the  dead  knows  not  how,  nay,  he 
who  wants  only  his  last  sad  office,  has  not  the  power  to  sin. 
What  savage  barbarity  then  is  it  to  exclude  from  the  house 
of  Grod  him  in  whom  both  the  inclination  and  the  power  of 
sinning  have  ceased !  Repent,  then,  my  sons,  of  your  preci- 
pitate boldness,  if  perchance  God  may  forgive  you  this 
crime,  for  you  have  spoken  both  foolishly  and  bitterly  even  to 
this  present  hour.  But  that  you  may  not  suppose  me  to  rest 
merely  on  my  own  authority,  listen  to  reason.  Every  act  of 
man  ought  to  be  considered  according  to  the  intention  of  his 
heart,  that  the  examination  of  the  deed  may  proceed  to  that 
point  whence  the  design  originated ;  I  am  deceived  if  the 
Truth  does  not  say  the  same ;  '  If  thine  eye  be  simple  thy 
whole  body  shall  be  full  of  light ;  if  evil,  all  thy  body  shall 
be  dark.'  A  wretched  pauper  hath  often  come  to  me  to  re- 
lieve his  distress.  As  I  knew  not  what  was  about  to  happen, 
I  have  presented  him  with  divers  pieces  of  money,  and  dis- 
missed liim.  On  his  departure  he  has  met  with  a  thief  on 
the  public  road,  has  incautiously  fallen  into  conversation 
with  him,  proclaimed  the  kindness  of  the  apostolical  see, 
and,  to  prove  the  truth  of  his  words,  produced  the  purse. 
On  their  journey  the  way  has  been  beguiled  with  various 
discourse,  until  the  dissembler,  loitering  somewhat  behind, 
has  felled  the  stranger  with  a  club,  and  immediately  des- 
patched him ;  and,  after  carrying  off  his  money,  has  boasted 
of  a  murder  which  liis  thirst  for  plunder  had  excited.  Can 
you,  therefore,  justly  accuse  me  for  giving  that  to  a  stranger 
which  was  the  cause  of  his  death  ?  for  even  the  most  cruel 
person  would  not  murder  a  man  unless  he  hoped  to  fill  his 
pockets  with  the  money.  What  shall  I  say  of  civil  and 
ecclesiastical  laws  ?  By  these  is  not  the  selfsame  fact  both 
punished  and  approved  under  different  circumstances  ?  The 
thief  is  punished  for  murdering  a  man  in  secret,  whereas  the 
soldier  is  applauded  who  destroys  his  enemy  in  battle ;  the 
homicide,  then,  is  ignominious  in  one  and  laudable  in  the 
other,  as  the  latter  committed  it  for  tlie  safety  of  his  country, 
the  former  for  the  gratification  of  his  desire  for  plunder. 
My  predecessor  Adrian  the  First,  of  renowned  memory,  was 
applauded  for  giving  up  the  investiture  of  the  churches  to 



228  WlLLIAil   OP    MALMESBURT.  [b.  ii.  c.  13. 

Charles  the  Great ;  so  that  no  person  elected  could  be  conse- 
crated by  the  bishop  till  the  king  had  first  dignified  him  with 
the  ring  and  staff :  on  the  other  hand  the  pontiffs  of  our 
time  have  got  credit  for  taking  away  these  appointments 
from  the  princes.  What  at  that  time,  then,  might  reason- 
ably be  granted,  may  at  the  present  be  reasonably  taken 
away.  But  why  so  ?  Because  the  mind  of  Charles  the 
Great  was  not  assailable  by  avarice,  nor  could  any  person 
easily  find  access  unless  he  entered  by  the  door.  Besides,  at 
so  vast  a  distance,  it  could  not  be  required  of  the  papal  see 
to  grant  its  consent  to  each  person  elected,  so  long  as  there 
was  a  king  at  hand  who  disposed  of  nothing  through  avarice, 
but  always  appointed  religious  persons  to  the  churches,  ac- 
cording to  the  sacred  ordinances  of  the  canons.  At  the 
present  time  luxury  and  ambition  have  beset  every  king's 
palace;  wherefore  the  spouse  of  Christ  deservedly  asserts 
her  liberty,  lest  a  tyrant  should  prostitute  to  an  ambitious 
usurper.  Thus,  on  either  side,  may  my  cause  be  denied  or 
affirmed;  it  is  not  the  office  of  a  bishop  either  himself  to 
fight,  or  to  command  others  to  do  so;  but  it  belongs  to  a 
bishop's  function,  if  he  see  innocence  made  shipwreck  of,  to 
oppose  both  hand  and  tongue.  Ezekiel  accuses  the  priests 
for  not  strongly  opposing  and  holding  forth  a  shield  for  the 
house  of  Israel  in  the  day  of  the  Lord.  Now  there  are  two 
persons  in  the  church  of  God,  appointed  for  the  purpose  of 
repressing  crimes ;  one  who  can  rebuke  sharply ;  the  other, 
who  can  wield  the  sword.  I,  as  you  can  witness  for  me, 
have  not  neglected  my  part ;  as  far  as  I  saw  it  could  profit, 
I  did  rebuke  sharply.  I  sent  a  message  to  him  whose  busi- 
ness it  was  to  bear  the  sword  ;  he  wrote  me  word  back,  that 
he  was  occupied  in  his  war  with  the  Vandals,  entreating  me 
not  to  spare  my  labour  nor  his  expense  in  breaking  up  the 
meetings  of  the  plunderers.  If  I  had  refused,  what  excuse 
could  I  offer  to  God  after  the  emperor  had  delegated  his 
office  to  me  ?  Could  I  see  the  murder  of  the  townspeople, 
the  robbery  of  the  pilgrims,  and  slumber  on  ?  But  he  who 
spares  a  thief,  kills  the  innocent.  Yet  it  will  be  objected 
that  it  is  not  the  part  of  a  priest  to  defile  himself  with  the 
blood  of  any  one  :  I  grant  it.  But  he  does  not  defile  him- 
self, who  frees  the  innocent  by  the  destruction  of  the  guilty. 
Blessed,  truly  blessed,  are  they  who  always  keep  judgment 

A.D.1065.]  CHARACTER   OP    GREGORY   VT.  229 

and  do  justice.  Phineas  and  Mattathias  were  priests  most 
renowned  in  fame,  both  crowned  with  the  sacred  mitre,  and 
both  habited  in  sacerdotal  garb ;  and  yet  they  both  punished 
the  wicked  with  their  own  hands.  The  one  transfixed  the 
guilty  couple  with  a  javelin:  the  other  mingled  the  blood  of 
the  sacrificer  with  the  sacrifice.  If  then  those  persons,  re- 
garding, as  it  were,  the  thick  darkness  of  the  law,  were, 
through  divine  zeal,  transported  for  mysteries,  the  shadows 
only  of  those  which  were  to  be ;  shall  we,  who  see  the  truth 
with  perfect  clearness,  suffer  our  sacred  things  to  be  pro- 
faned? Azarias  the  priest  drove  away  king  Ozias,  when 
offering  incense,  and  no  doubt  would  have  killed  him,  had  he 
not  quickly  departed  ;  the  divine  vengeance,  however,  anti- 
cipated the  hand  of  the  priest,  for  a  leprosy  preyed  on  the 
body  of  the  man  whose  mind  had  coveted  unlawful  things  ; 
the  devotion  of  a  king  was  disturbed,  and  shall  not  the  de- 
sires of  a  thief  be  so  ?  It  is  not  enough  to  excuse,  I  even 
applaud  this  my  conduct ;  indeed  I  have  conferred  a  benefit 
on  the  very  persons  I  seem  to  have  destroyed.  I  have 
diminished  their  punishment  in  accelerating  their  deaths. 
The  longer  a  wicked  man  lives  the  more  he  will  sin,  unless 
he  be  such  as  God  hath  graciously  reserved  for  a  singular 
example.  Death  in  general  is  good  for  all  ;  for  by  it  the 
just  man  finds  repose  in  heaven, — the  unjust  ceases  from  his 
crimes, — the  bad  man  puts  an  end  to  his  guilt, — the  good 
proceeds  to  his  reward, — the  saint  approaches  to  the  palm, — 
the  sinner  looks  forward  to  pardon,  because  death  has  fixed 
a  boundary  to  his  transgressions.  They  then  surely  ought 
to  thank  me,  who  through  my  conduct  have  been  exempted 
from  so  many  sufferings.  I  have  urged  these  matters  in  my 
own  defence,  and  to  invahdate  your  assertions  :  however, 
since  both  your  reasoning  and  mine  may  be  fallacious,  let  us 
commit  all  to  the  decision  of  God.  Place  my  body,  when 
laid  out  in  the  manner  of  my  predecessors,  before  the  gates 
of  the  church ;  and  let  them  be  secured  with  locks  and  bars. 
If  God  be  willing  that  I  should  enter,  you  will  hail  a 
miracle ;  if  not,  do  with  my  dead  body  according  to  your 

Struck  by  this  address,  when  he  had  breathed  his  last, 
they  carried  out  the  remains  of  the  departed  prelate  before 
the  doors,  which  were  strongly  fastened ;  and  presently  a 

230  WILLIAM   OF   MA.LMESBTJRY.  [r  ir.  c.  13. 

whirlwind,  sent  hj  God,  broke  every  opposing  bolt,  and 
drove  the  very  doors,  with  the  utmost  violence,  against  the 
walls.  The  surrounding  people  applaud  with  joy,  and  the 
body  of  the  pontiff  was  interred,  with  all  due  respect,  by 
the  side  of  the  other  popes. 

At  the  same  time  something  similar  occurred  in  England, 
not  by  divine  miracle,  but  by  infernal  craft ;  which  when  I 
shall  have  related,  the  credit  of  the  narrative  will  not  be 
shaken,  though  the  minds  of  the  hearers  should  be  incredu- 
lous ;  for  I  have  heard  it  from  a  man  of  such  character,  who 
swore  he  had  seen  it,  that  I  should  blush  to  disbelieve. 
There  resided  at  Berkeley  a  woman  addicted  to  witchcraft, 
as  it  afterwards  appeared,  and  skilled  in  ancient  augury :  she 
was  excessively  gluttonous,  perfectly  lascivious,  setting  no 
bounds  to  her  debaucheries,  as  she  was  not  old,  though  fast 
declining  in  life.  On  a  certain  day,  as  she  was  regaling,  a 
jack-daw,  which  was  a  very  great  favourite,  chattered  a 
little  more  loudly  than  usual.  On  hearing  which  the  wo- 
man's knife  fell  from  her  hand,  her  countenance  grew  pale, 
and  deeply  groaning,  "  This  day,"  said  she,  "  my  plough  has 
completed  its  last  furrow ;  to-day  I  shall  hear  of,  and  suffer, 
some  dreadful  calamity."  While  yet  speaking,  the  messenger 
of  her  misfortunes  arrived;  and  being  asked,  why  he  ap- 
proached with  so  distressed  an  air  ?  "  I  bring  news,"  said  he, 
"from  that  village,"  naming  the  place,  "  of  the  death  of  your 
son,  and  of  the  whole  family,  by  a  sudden  accident."  At 
this  intelligence,  the  woman,  sorely  afflicted,  immediately 
took  to  her  bed,  and  perceiving  the  disorder  rapidly  ap- 
proaching the  vitals,  she  summoned  her  surviving  children, 
a  monk,  and  a  nun,  by  hasty  letters ;  and,  when  they  arrived, 
with  faltering  voice,  addressed  them  thus  :  "  Formerly,  my 
children,  I  constantly  administered  to  my  wretched  circum- 
stances by  demoniacal  arts  :  I  have  been  the  sink  of  every 
vice,  the  teacher  of  every  allurement :  yet,  while  practising 
these  crimes,  I  was  accustomed  to  soothe  my  hapless  soul 
with  the  hope  of  your  piety.  Despairing  of  myself,  I  rested 
my  expectations  on  you;  I  advanced  you  as  my  defenders 
against  evil  spirits,  my  safeguards  against  my  strongest  foes. 
Now,  since  I  have  approached  the  end  of  my  life,  and  shall 
have  those  eager  to  punish,  who  lured  me  to  sin,  I  entreat 
you  by  your  mother's  breasts,  if  you  have  any  regard,  any 

A.D.  10G5.3  STORY  OF  THE  BERKELEY  WITCH.  23 1 

affection,  at  least  to  endeavour  to  alleviate  my  torments; 
and,  although  you  cannot  revoke  the  sentence  already  passed 
upon  my  soul,  yet  you  may,  perhaps,  rescue  my  body,  by 
these  means :  sew  up  my  corpse  in  the  skin  of  a  stag ;  lay 
it  on  its  back  in  a  stone  coffin ;  fasten  down  the  lid  with  lead 
and  iron;  on  this  lay  a  stone,  bound  round  with  three  iron 
chains  of  enormous  weight;  let  there  be  psalms  sung  for 
fifty  nights,  and  masses  said  for  an  equal  number  of  days, 
to  allay  the  ferocious  attacks  of  my  adversaries.  If  I  lie 
thus  secure  for  three  nights,  on  the  fourth  day  bury  your 
mother  in  the  ground ;  although  I  fear,  lest  the  earth,  which 
has  been  so  often  burdened  with  my  crimes,  should  refuse  to 
receive  and  cherish  me  in  her  bosom."  They  did  their  ut- 
most to  comply  with  her  injunctions:  but  alas!  vain  were 
pious  tears,  vows,  or  entreaties ;  so  great  was  the  woman's 
guilt,  so  great  the  devil's  violence.  For  on  the  first  two 
nights,  while  the  choir  of  priests  was  singing  psalms  around 
the  body,  the  devils,  one  by  one,  with  the  utmost  ease 
bursting  open  the  door  of  the  church,  though  closed  with 
an  immense  bolt,  broke  asunder  the  two  outer  chains ;  the 
middle  one  being  more  laboriously  wrought,  remained  entire. 
On  the  third  night,  about  cock-crow,  the  whole  monastery 
seemed  to  be  overthrown  from  its  very  foundation,  by  the 
clamour  of  the  approaching  enemy.  One  devil,  more  ter- 
rible in  appearance  than  the  rest,  and  of  loftier  stature, 
broke  the  gates  to  shivers  by  the  violence  of  his  attack. 
The  priests  grew  motionless  with  fear,*  their  hair  stood  on 
end,  and  they  became  speechless.  He  proceeded,  as  it  ap- 
peared, with  haughty  step  towards  the  coffin,  and  calling  on 
the  woman  by  name,  commanded  her  to  rise.  She  replying 
that  she  could  not  on  account  of  the  chains :  "  You  shall  be 
loosed,"  said  he,  "and  to  your  cost:"  and  directly  he  broke 
the  chain,  which  had  mocked  the  ferocity  of  the  others,  with 
as  little  exertion  as  though  it  had  been  made  of  flax.  He 
also  beat  down  the  cover  of  the  coffin  with  his  foot,  and 
taking  her  by  the  hand,  before  them  all,  he  dragged  her  out 
of  the  church.  At  the  doors  appeared  a  black  horse,  proudly 
neighing,  with  iron  hooks  projecting  over  his  whole  back ; 
on  which  the  wretched  creature  was  placed,  and,  imme- 
diately, with  the  whole  party,  vanished  from  the  eyes  of  the 
*  ''  Steteruntque  comae,  et  vox  faucibus  haesit." — Virgil,  .^neid  iii.  48. 

232  WILLIAM    OF    MALMESBURY.  [b.  ii.  c.  13. 

beholders;  her  pitiable  cries,  however,  for  assistance,  were 
heard  for  nearly  the  space  of  four  miles.  No  person  will 
deem  this  incredible,  who  has  read  St.  Gregory's  Dialogues  ;* 
who  tells,  in  his  fourth  book,  of  a  wicked  man  that  had  been 
buried  in  a  church,  and  was  cast  out  of  doors  again  by 
devils.  Among  the  French  also,  what  I  am  about  to  relate 
is  frequently  mentioned.  Charles  Martel,  a  man  of  re- 
nowned valour,  who  obliged  the  Saracens,  when  they  had 
invaded  France,  to  retire  to  Spain,  was,  at  his  death,  buried 
in  the  church  of  St.  Denys;  but  as  he  had  seized  much  of 
the  property  of  almost  all  the  monasteries  in  France  for  the 
purpose  of  paying  his  soldiers,  he  was  visibly  taken  away 
from  his  tomb  by  evil  spirits,  and  has  nowhere  been  seen 
to  his  day.  At  length  this  was  revealed  to  the  bishop  of 
Orleans,  and  by  him  publicly  made  known. 

But  to  return  to  Rome :  there  was  a  citizen  of  this  place, 
youthful,  rich,  and  of  senatorial  rank,  who  had  recently 
married ;  and,  who  calling  together  his  companions,  had 
made  a  plentiful  entertainment.  After  the  repast,  when  by 
moderate  drinking  they  had  excited  hilarity,  they  went  out 
into  the  field  to  promote  digestion,  either  by  leaping,  or 
hurling,  or  some  other  exercise.  The  master  of  the  ban- 
quet, who  was  leader  of  the  game,  called  for  a  ball  to  play 
with,  and  in  the  meantime  placed  the  wedding  ring  on  the 
outstretched  finger  of  a  brazen  statue  Avhich  stood  close  at 
hand.  But  when  almost  all  the  others  had  attacked  him 
alone,  tired  with  the  violence  of  the  exercise,  he  left  off 
playing  first,  and  going  to  resume  his  ring,  he  saw  the  fin- 
ger of  the  statue  clenched  fast  in  the  palm.  Finding,  after 
many  attempts,  that  he  was  unable  either  to  force  it  off,  or 
to  break  the  finger,  he  retired  in  silence;  concealing  the 
matter  from  his  companions,  lest  they  should  laugh  at  liim 
at  the  moment,  or  deprive  him  of  the  ring  when  he  was 
gone.  Returning  thither  with  some  servants  in  the  dead  of 
night,  he  was  surprised  to  find  the  finger  again  extended, 
and  the  ring  taken  away.  Dissembling  his  loss,  he  was 
soothed  by  the  blandishments  of  his  bride.  When  the  hour 
of  rest  arrived,  and  he  had  placed  himself  by  the  side  of  liis 
spouse,  he  was  conscious  of  something  dense,  and  cloud-like, 
rolling  between  them,  which  might  be  felt,  though  not  seen, 
*  There  are  various  stories  of  this  kind  in  Gregory's  Dialogues. 

A.D.1137.]  THE    PRIEST    PALUMBUS.  233 

and  by  this  means  was  impeded  in  his  embraces :  he  heard  a 
voice  too,  saying,  "  Embrace  me,  since  you  wedded  me  to- 
day ;  I  am  Venus,  on  whose  finger  you  put  the  ring ;  I  have 
it,  nor  will  I  restore  it."     Terrified  at  such  a  prodigy,  he 
had  neither  courage,  nor  ability  to  reply,  and  passed  a  sleep- 
less night  in  silent  reflection  upon  the  matter.     A  consider- 
able space  of  time  elapsed  in  this  way:  as  often  as  he  was 
desirous  of  the  embraces  of  his  wife,  the  same  circumstance 
ever  occurred;  though  in  other  respects,  he  was  perfectly 
equal  to  any  avocation,  civil  or  military.     At  length,  urged 
by  the  complaints  of  his  consort,  he  detailed  the  matter  to 
her  parents;  who,  after  deliberating  for  a  time,  disclosed  it 
to  one  Palumbus,  a  suburban  priest.     This  man  was  skilled 
in  necromancy,  could  raise  up  magical  figures,  terrify  devils^ 
and  impel  them  to  do  anything  he  chose.     Making  an  agree- 
ment, that  he  should  fill  his  purse  most  plentifully,  provided 
he  succeeded  in  rendering  the  lovers  happy,  he  called  up  all 
the  powers  of  his  art,   and  gave  the  young  man  a  letter 
which  he  had  prepared ;  saying,  "  Go,  at  such  an  hour  of 
the  night,  into  the  high  road,  where  it  divides  into  four 
several  ways,  and  stand  there  in  silent  expectation.     There 
will  pass  by  human  figures  of  either  sex,  of  every  age,  rank, 
and  condition ;  some  on  horseback,  some  on  foot ;  some  with 
countenances  dejected,  others  elated  with  full-swollen  inso- 
lence ;  in  short,  you  will  perceive  in  their  looks  and  gestures, 
every  symptom  both  of  joy  and  of  grief:  though  these  should 
address  you,    enter   into   conversation  with  none  of   them. 
This  company  will  be  followed  by  a  person  taller,  and  more 
corpulent  than  the  rest,  sitting  in  a  chariot ;  to  him  you  will, 
in  silence,  give  the  letter  to  read,  and  immediately  your  wish 
will   be  accomplished,   provided   you   act   with   resolution." 
The  young  man  took  the  road  he  was  commanded;  and,  at 
night,  standing  in  the  open  air,  experienced  the  truth  of  the 
priest's  asb?rtion  by  everything  which  he  saw ;  there  was 
nothing  but  what  was  completed  to  a  tittle.     Among  other 
passing  figures,  he  beheld  a  woman,  in  meretricious  garb, 
riding  on  a  mule  ;  her  hair,  which  was  bound  above  in  a 
golden  fillet,   floated  unconfined  on  her  shoulders;  in  her 
hand  was  a  golden  wand,  with  which  she  directed  the  pro- 
gress of  her  beast ;  she  was  so  thinly  clad,  as  to  be  almost 
naked,  and  her  gestures  were  wonderfully  indecent.     But 

234  WILLIAM    OF    MALMESBTJRY.  [b.  ir.  r.  13, 

what  need  of  more  ?  At  last  came  the  chief,  in  appearance, 
who,  from  his  chariot  adorned  with  emeralds  and  pearls,  fix- 
ing his  eyes  most  sternly  on  the  young  man,  demanded  the 
cause  of  his  presence.  He  made  no  reply,  but  stretching 
out  his  hand,  gave  him  the  letter.  The  demon,  not  daring 
to  despise  the  well-known  seal,  read  the  epistle,  and  imme- 
diately, lifting  up  his  hands  to  heaven,  "Almighty  God," 
said  he,  "  in  whose  sight  every  transgression  is  as  a  noisome 
smell,  how  long  wilt  thou  endure  the  crimes  of  the  priest 
Palumbus  ?"  The  devil  then  directly  sent  some  of  those 
about  him  to  take  the  ring  by  force  from  Venus,  who  re- 
stored it  at  last,  though  with  great  reluctance.  The  young 
man  thus  obtaining  his  object,  became  possessed  of  his  long 
desired  pleasures  without  farther  obstacle  ;  but  Palumbus, 
on  hearing  of  the  devil's  complaint  to  God  concerning  him, 
understood  that  the  close  of  his  days  was  predicted.  In 
consequence,  making  a  pitiable  atonement  by  voluntarily 
cutting  off  all  his  limbs,  he  confessed  unheard-of  crimes 
to  the  pope  in  the  presence  of  the  Roman  people. 

At  that  time  the  body  of  Pallas,  the  son  of  Evander,  of 
whom  Virgil  speaks,  was  found  entire  at  Rome,  to  the  great 
astonishment  of  all,  for  having  escaped  corruption  so  many 
ages.  Such,  however,  is  the  nature  of  bodies  embalmed, 
that,  when  the  flesh  decays,  the  skin  preserves  the  nerves, 
and  the  nerves  the  bones.  The  gash  which  Turnus  had 
made  in  the  middle  of  his  breast  measured  four  feet  and  a 
half.     His  epitaph  was  found  to  this  effect, 

Pallas,  Evander's  son,  lies  buried  here 
In  order  due,  transfix'd  by  Turnus'  spear. 

Which  epitaph  I  should  not  think  made  at  the  time,  though 
Carmentis  the  mother  of  Evander  is  reported  to  have  dis- 
covered the  Roman  letters,  but  that  it  was  composed  by 
Ennius,  or  some  other  ancient  poet.*  There  was  a  burning 
lamp  at  his  head,  constructed  by  magical  art ;    so  that  no 

*  The  original  is  as  follows  : 

Filius  Evandri  Pallas,  quern  lancea  Tumi 
Militis  occidit,  more  suo  jacet  hie. 

I  am  unable  to  say  who  was  the  author  of  this  epigram,  but  it  is  not  too 
hazardous  to  assert  that  it  was  not  composed  either  by  Ennius  or  by  any 
other  ancient  poet. 

AD.  1065.]  PRODIGY  NEAR  NORMANDY.  235 

violent  blast,  no  dripping  of  water  could  extinguish  it. 
While  many  were  lost  in  admiration  at  this,  one  person,  as 
there  are  always  some  people  expert  in  mischief,  made  an 
aperture  beneath  the  flame  with  an  iron  style,  which  intro- 
ducing the  air,  the  light  vanished.  The  body,  when  set  up 
against  the  wall,  surpassed  it  in  height,  but  some  days  after- 
wards, being  drenched  with  the  drip  of  the  eves,  it  acknow- 
ledged the  corruption  common  to  mortals  ;  the  skin  and  the 
nerves  dissolving. 

At  that  time  too,  on  the  confines  of  Brittany  and  Nor- 
mandy, a  prodigy  was  seen  in  one,  or  more  properly  speak- 
ing, in  two  women  :  there  were  two  heads,  four  arms,  and 
every  other  part  two-fold  to  the  navel ;  beneath,  were  two 
legs,  two  feet,  and  all  other  parts  single.  While  one  was 
laughing,  eating,  or  speaking,  the  other  would  cry,  fast,  or 
remain  silent :  though  both  mouths  ate,  yet  the  excrement 
was  discharged  by  only  one  passage.  At  last,  one  dying,  the 
other  survived,  and  the  living  carried  about  the  dead,  for  the 
space  of  three  years,  till  she  died  also,  through  the  fatigue  of 
the  weight,  and  the  stench  of  the  dead  carcass.*  Many  were 
of  opinion,  and  some  even  have  written,  that  these  women 
represented  England  and  Normandy,  which,  though  sepa- 
rated by  position,  are  yet  united  under  one  master.  What- 
ever wealth  these  countries  greedily  absorb,  flows  into  one 
common  receptacle,  which  is  either  the  covetousness  of 
princes,  or  the  ferocity  of  surrounding  nations.  England, 
yet  vigorous,  supports  with  her  wealth  Normandy  now  dead 
and  almost  decayed,  until  she  herself  perhaps  shall  fall 
through  the  violence  of  spoilers.  Happy,  if  she  shall  ever 
again  breathe  that  liberty,  the  mere  shadow  of  which  she 
has  long  pursued  !  She  now  mourns,  borne  down  with  ca- 
lamity, and  oppressed  with  exactions  ;  the  causes  of  which 
misery  I  shall  relate,  after  I  have  despatched  some  things 
pertaining  to  my  subject.  For  since  I  have  hitherto  recorded 
the  civil  and  mihtary  transactions  of  the  kings  of  England,  I 

*  There  seems  no  reason  to  doubt  the  truth  of  this  circumstance,  since 
the  exhibition  of  the  Siamese  twins,  the  most  extraordinary  lusus  naturce 
that  has  occurred  in  the  nineteenth  century.  Medical  science,  aided 
by  comparative  anatomy,  has  ascertained  that  the  bodies  of  both  man  and 
the  brute  creation  are  susceptible  of  combinations — not  usually  occurring  in 
the  couise  of  nature, — which  in  former  times  were  thought  impossible,  and 
as  such  were  universally  disbelieved. 

236  WILLIAM    OF    MALMESBURY.  Lb.  n.  c.  13. 

may  be  allowed  to  expatiate  somewhat  on  the  sanctity  of  cer- 
tain of  them  ;  and  at  the  same  time  to  contemplate  what 
splendour  of  divine  love  beamed  on  this  people,  from  the  first 
dawning  of  their  faith  :  since  I  believe  you  can  no  where 
find  the  bodies  of  so  many  saints  entire  after  death,  typifying 
the  state  of  final  incorruption.  I  imagine  this  to  have  taken 
place  by  God's  agency,  in  order  that  a  nation,  situated,  as  it 
were,  almost  out  of  the  world,  should  more  confidently  em- 
brace the  hope  of  a  resurrection  from  the  contemplation  of 
the  incorruption  of  the  saints.  There  are,  altogether,  five 
which  I  have  known  of,  though  the  residents  in  many  places 
boast  of  more  ;  Saint  Etheldrida,*  and  Werburga,  virgins  ; 
king  Edmund  ;  archbishop  Elphege  ;t  Cuthbert  the  ancient 
father  :  who  with  skin  and  flesh  unwasted,  and  their  joints 
flexile,  appear  to  have  a  certain  vital  warmth  about  them, 
and  to  be  merely  sleeping.  Who  can  enumerate  all  the  other 
saints,  of  different  ranks  and  professions  ?  whose  names  and 
lives,  singly  to  describe,  1  have  neither  intention  nor  leisure  : 
yet  oh  that  I  might  hereafter  have  leisure  !  But  I  will  be 
silent,  lest  I  should  seem  to  promise  more  than  I  can  per- 
form. In  consequence,  it  is  not  necessary  to  mention  any  of 
the  commonalty,  but  merely,  not  to  go  out  of  the  path  of  my 
subject  history,  the  male  and  female  scions  of  the  royal  stock, 
most  of  them  innocently  murdered  ;  and  who  have  been  con- 
secrated martyrs,  not  by  human  conjecture,  but  by  divine 
acknowledgment.  Hence  may  be  known  how  little  indulg- 
ence they  gave  to  the  lust  of  pleasure,  who  inherited  eter- 
nal glory  by  means  of  so  easy  a  death. 

In  the  former  book,  my  history  dwelt  for  some  time  on  the 
praises  of  the  most  holy  Oswald,  king  and  martyr  ;  among 
whose  other  marks  of  sanctity,  was  this,  which,  according  to 
some  copies,  is  related  in  the  History  of  the  Angles.;}:  In 
the  monastery  at  Selsey,  which  Wilfrid  of  holy  memory  had 

*  Sometimes  called  St.  Audry.  She  was  abbess  of  Ely  monastery.  St. 
Werburga  was  patroness  of  Chester  monastery. 

+  Archbishop  of  Canterbury,  from  a.d.  1006  to  1012.  See  Sax.  Chro- 
nicle, pp.  402,  403. 

X  Bede,  book  iv,  chap.  1 4.  There  are  some  MSS.  which  want  this 
chapter.  The  former  editor  of  Bede  accounts  for  it  very  satisfactorily  ; 
stating  that  a  very  ancient  MS.  in  the  Cotton  Collection  has  a  note  mark- 
ing that  a  leaf  was  here  wanting  ;  and  that  those  which  want  the  chapter 
were  transcripts  of  this  imperfect  MS. 

A.D.  1035.]  OSWALD,  KING  AJSfD  MARTYR.  237 

filled  with  Northumbrian  monks,  a  dreadful  maladj  broke 
out,  and  destroyed  numbers  ;  the  remainder  endeavoured  to 
avert  the  pestilence  by  a  fast  of  three  days.  On  the  second 
day  of  the  fast,  the  blessed  apostles  Peter  and  Paul,  appear- 
ing to  a  youth  who  was  sick  with  the  disorder,  animated  him 
by  observing  :  "  That  he  should  not  fear  approaching  death, 
as  it  would  be  a  termination  of  his  present  illness,  and  an 
entrance  into  eternal  life  ;  that  no  other  person  of  that  mon- 
astery would  die  of  this  disorder,  because  God  had  granted 
this  to  the  merits  of  the  noble  king  Oswald,  who  was  that 
very  day  supplicating  for  his  countrymen  :  for  it  was  on  this 
day  that  the  king,  murdered  by  the  faithless,  had  in  a  mo- 
ment ascended  to  the  heavenly  tribunal :  that  they  should 
search,  therefore,  in  the  scroll,  in  which  the  names  of  the 
dead  were  written,  and  if  they  found  it  so,  they  should  put 
an  end  to  the  fast,  give  loose  to  security  and  joy,  and  sing 
solemn  masses  to  God,  and  to  the  holy  king."  This  vision 
being  quickly  followed  by  the  death  of  the  boy,  and  the  anni- 
versary of  the  martyr  being  found  in  the  martyrology,  and  at 
the  same  time  the  cessation  of  the  disorder  being  attested  by 
the  whole  province,  the  name  of  Oswald  was  from  that  period 
inserted  among  the  martyrs,  wiiich  before,  on  account  of  liis 
recent  death,  had  only  been  admitted  into  the  list  of  the  faith- 
ful. Deservedly,  I  say,  then,  deservedly  is  he  to  be  cele- 
brated, whose  glory  the  divine  approbation  so  signally  mani- 
fested, as  to  order  him  to  be  dignified  with  masses,  in  a 
manner,  as  I  tliink,  not  usual  among  men.  The  undoubted 
veracity  of  the  historian  precludes  the  possibility  of  sup- 
posing this  matter  to  be  false  ;  as  does  also  the  blessed  bishop 
Acca,*  who  was  the  friend  of  the  author. 

Egbert,  king  of  Kent,  the  son  of  Erconbert,  whom  I  have 
mentioned  before,  had  some  very  near  relations,  descended 
from  the  royal  hue  ;  their  names  were  Ethelredf  and  Ethel- 
bert,  the  sons  of  Ermenred  his  uncle.  Apprehensive  that 
they  might  grow  up  with  notions  of  succeeding  to  the  king- 
dom, and  fearful  for  his  safety,  he  kept  them  about  him  for 
some  time,  with  very  homely  entertainment :  and,  at  last, 
grudging  them  his  regards,  he  removed  them  from  his  courL 

*  Acca,  bishop  of  Hexham,  a.d.  710,  and  a  great  friend  of  venerable 
Bede,  who  inscribed  to  him  many  of  his  works. 
t  Or  Elbert.     See  b.  i.  c,  i.  p.  15. 

238  WILLIAM  OF  MALMESBURY.  [b.  ii.  c.  13. 

Soon  after,  when  they  had  been  secretly  despatched  by  one 
of  his  servants  named  Thunre,  which  signifies  Thunder,  he 
buried  them  under  heaps  of  rubbish,  thinking  that  a  murder 
perpetrated  in  privacy  would  escape  detection.  The  eye  of 
God  however,  which  no  secrets  of  the  heart  can  deceive, 
brought  the  innocents  to  light,  vouchsafing  many  cures  upon 
the  spot ;  until  the  neighbours,  being  roused,  dug  up  the 
unsightly  heaps  of  turf  and  rubbish  cast  upon  their  bodies, 
and  forming  a  trench  after  the  manner  of  a  sepulchre,  they 
erected  a  small  church  over  it.  There  they  remained  till  the 
time  of  king  Edgar,  when  they  were  taken  up  by  St.  Oswald, 
archbishop*  of  Worcester,  and  conveyed  to  the  monastery  of 
Ramsey  ;  from  which  period,  granting  the  petitions  of  the 
suppliant,  they  have  manifested  themselves  by  many  miracles. 

Offa  king  of  the  Mercians  murdered  many  persons  of  con- 
sequence for  the  security,  as  he  supposed,  of  his  kingdom, 
without  any  distinction  of  friend  or  foe  ;  among  these  was 
king  Ethelbert  ;|  thereby  being  guilty  of  an  atrocious  out- 
rage against  the  suitor  of  his  daughter.  His  unmerited 
death,  however,  is  thought  to  have  been  amply  avenged  by 
the  short  reign  of  Ofia's  son.  Indeed  God  signalised  his 
sanctity  by  such  evident  tokens,  that  at  this  very  day  the 
episcopal  church  of  Hereford  is  consecrated  to  his  name. 
Nor  should  any  thing  appear  idle  or  irrelevant,  which  our 
pious  and  religious  ancestors  have  either  tolerated  by  their 
silence,  or  confirmed  by  their  authority. 

What  shall  my  pen  here  trace  worthy  of  St.  Kenelm,  a 
youth  of  tender  age  ?  Kenulf,  king  of  the  Mercians,  his 
father,  had  consigned  him,  when  seven  years  old,  to  his  sister 
Quendrida,  for  the  purpose  of  education.  But  she,  falsely 
entertaining  hopes  of  the  kingdom  for  herself,  gave  her  little 
brother  in  charge  to  a  servant  of  her  household,  with  an 
order  to  despatch  him.  Taking  out  the  innocent,  under  pre- 
tence of  hunting  for  his  amusement  or  recreation,  he  mur- 
dered and  hid  him  in  a  thicket.  But  strange  to  tell,  the 
crime  which  had  been  so  secretly  committed  in  England, 
gained  publicity  in  Rome,  by  God's  agency  :  for  a  dove, 
from  heaven,  bore  a  parchment  scroll  to  the  altar  of  St. 
Peter,  containing  an  exact  account  both  of  his  death  and 

*  He  was  at  the  same  time  bishop  of  Worcester,  and  archbishop  of.  York. 
See  b.  i.  c.  4,  p.  78. 

A.c.  1065  ]  SAINT    AVISTAN.  239 

place  of  burial.  As  this  was  written  in  the  English  language 
it  Avas  vainly  attempted  to  be  read  by  the  Romans  and  men 
of  other  nations  who  were  present.  Fortunately,  however, 
and  opportunely,  an  Englishman  was  at  hand,  who  translated 
the  writing  to  the  Roman  people,  into  Latin,  and  gave  occa- 
sion to  the  pope  to  write  a  letter  to  the  kings  of  England, 
acquainting  them  with  the  martyrdom  of  their  countryman. 
In  consequence  of  this  the  body  of  the  innocent  was  taken 
up  in  presence  of  a  numerous  assembly,  and  removed  to 
Winchcomb.  The  murderous  woman  was  so  indignant  at  the 
vocal  chaunt  of  the  priests  and  loud  applause  of  the  laity, 
that  she  thrust  out  her  head  from  the  window  of  the  chamber 
where  she  was  standing,  and,  by  chance,  having  in  her  hands 
a  psalter,  she  came  in  course  of  reading  to  the  psalm  "  O 
God  my  praise,"  which,  for  I  know  not  what  charm,  reading 
backwards,  she  endeavoured  to  drown  the  joy  of  the  choris- 
ters. At  that  moment,  her  eyes,  torn  by  divine  vengeance 
from  their  hollow  sockets,  scattered  blood  upon  the  verse 
which  runs,  "  This  is  the  work  of  them  who  defame  me  to 
the  Lord,  and  who  speak  evil  against  my  soul."  The  marks 
of  her  blood  are  still  extant,  proving  the  cruelty  of  the 
woman,  and  the  vengeance  of  God.  The  body  of  the  little 
saint  is  very  generally  adored,  and  there  is  hardly  any  place 
in  England  more  venerated,  or  where  greater  numbers  of 
persons  attend  at  the  festival ;  and  this  arising  from  the  long- 
continued  belief  of  his  sanctity,  and  the  constant  exhibition 
of  miracles. 

Nor  shall  my  history  be  wanting  in  thy  praise,  Wistan,* 
blessed  youth,  son  of  'Wimund,  son  of  Withlaf  king  of  the 
Mercians,  and  of  Elfleda,  daughter  of  Ceohvulf,  who  was  the 
uncle  of  Kenelm  ;  I  will  not,  I  say,  pass  thee  over  in  silence, 
whom  Berfert  thy  relation  so  atrociously  murdered.  And 
let  posterity  know,  if  they  deem  this  history  worthy  of  perusal, 
that  there  was  nothing  earthly  more  praiseworthy  than  your 
disposition  ;  at  which  a  deadly  assassin  becoming  irritated, 
despatched  you  :  nor  was  there  any  tiling  more  innocent 
than  your  purity  towards  God  ;  invited  by  which,  the  secret 
Judge  deemed  it  fitting  to  honour  you  :  for  a  pillar  of  light, 
sent  down  from  heaven,  piercing  the  sable  robe  of  night, 

*  «  Concerning  St.  Wistan,  consult  MSS.  Harl.  2253.  De  Martyrio  S. 
Wislani" — Hardy. 

240  WILLIAM   OF    MALMESBURY.  U-  n.  c  13. 

revealed  the  wickedness  of  the  deep  cavern,  and  brought  to 
view  the  crime  of  the  murderer.  In  consequence,  Wistan's 
venerable  remains  were  taken  up,  and  by  the  care  of  his  rela- 
tions conveyed  to  Rependun  ;*  at  that  time  a  famous  monas- 
tery, now  a  villa  belonging  to  the  earl  of  Chester,  and  its 
glory  grown  obsolete  with  age ;  but  at  present  thou  dwellest 
at  Evesham,  kindly  favouring  the  petitions  of  such  as  regard 

Bede  has  related  many  anecdotes  of  the  sanctity  of  the 
kings  of  the  East  Saxons,  and  East  Angles,  whose  genealogy 
I  have  in  the  first  book  of  this  work  traced  briefly  ;  because 
I  could  no  where  find  a  complete  history  of  the  kings.  I 
shall  however,  dilate  somewhat  on  St.  Edmund,  who  held 
dominion  in  East  Anglia,  and  to  whom  the  time  of  Bede  did 
not  extend.  This  province,  on  the  south  and  east,  is  sur- 
rounded by  the  ocean  ;  on  the  north,  by  deep  lakes,  and 
stagnant  pools,  which,  stretching  out  a  vast  distance  in 
length,  with  a  breadth  of  two  or  three  miles,  afford  abund- 
ance of  fish  for  the  use  of  the  inhabitants  ;  on  the  west  it 
is  continuous  with  the  rest  of  the  island,  but  defended  by 
the  earth's  being  thrown  up  in  the  form  of  a  rampart. f  The 
soil  is  admirable  for  pasture,  and  for  hunting  ;  it  is  full  of 
monasteries,  and  large  bodies  of  monks  are  settled  on  the 
islands  of  these  stagnant  waters  ;  the  people  are  a  merry, 
pleasant,  jovial  race,  though  apt  to  carr}'-  their  jokes  to  ex- 
cess. Here,  then,  reigned  Edmund  ;  a  man  devoted  to  God, 
ennobled  by  his  descent  from  ancient  kings,  and  though  he 
presided  over  the  province  in  peace  for  several  years,  yet 
never  through  the  effeminacy  of  the  times  did  he  relax  his 
virtue.  Hingwar  and  Hubba,  two  leaders  of  the  Danes,  came 
over  to  depopulate  the  provinces  of  the  Northumbrians  and 
East  Angles.  The  former  of  these  seized  the  unresisting 
king,  who  had  cast  away  his  arms  and  was  lying  on  the 
ground  in  prayer,  and,  after  the  infliction  of  tortures,^  be- 
headed him.  On  the  death  of  this  saintly  man,  the  purity  of 
his  past  life  was  evidenced  by  unheard-of  miracles.  The 
Danes  had  cast  away  the  head,  when  severed  from  the  body 

*  Repton.  +  Thought  to  be  the  Devil's  Dyke,  on  Newmarket 


t  He  was  tied  to  a  tree,  and  shot  to  death  with  arrows.  Abbo  Floria- 

A.D.  10C5.3  CHARACTER  OF  ST.  EDMUND.  24 i 

by  the  cruelty  of  the  executioners,  and  it  had  been  hidden  in 
a  thicket.  While  his  subjects,  who  had  tracked  the  footsteps 
of  the  enemy  as  they  departed,  were  seeking  it,  intending  to 
solemnize  with  due  honour  the  funeral  rites  of  their  king, 
they  were  struck  with  the  pleasing  intervention  of  Grod  :  for 
the  lifeless  head  uttered  a  voice,  inviting  all  who  were  in 
search  of  it  to  approach.  A  wolf,  a  beast  accustomed  to 
prey  upon  dead  carcasses,  was  holding  it  in  its  paws,  and 
guarding  it  untouched  ;  which  animal  also,  after  the  manner 
of  a  tame  creature,  gently  followed  the  bearers  to  the  tomb, 
and  neither  did  nor  received  any  injury.  The  sacred 
body  was  then,  for  a  time,  committed  to  the  earth  ;  turf 
was  placed  over  it,  and  a  wooden  chapel,  of  trifling  cost, 
erected.  The  negligent  natives,  however,  were  soon  made 
sensible  of  the  virtue  of  the  martyr,  which  excited  their 
listless  minds  to  reverence  him,  by  the  miracles  which  he 
performed.  And  though  perhaps  the  first  proof  of  his  power 
may  appear  weak  and  trivial,  yet  nevertheless  I  shall  subjoin 
it.  He  bound,  with  invisible  bands,  some  thieves  who  had 
endeavoured  to  break  into  the  church  by  night :  this  was 
done  in  the  very  attempt;  a  pleasant  spectacle  enough,  to 
see  the  plunder  hold  fast  the  thief,  so  that  he  could  neither 
desist  from  the  enterprise,  nor  complete  the  design.  In  con- 
sequence, Theodred  bishop  of  London,  who  lies  at  St.  Paul's, 
removed  the  lasting  disgrace  of  so  mean  a  structure,  by  build- 
ing a  nobler  edifice  over  those  sacred  limbs,  which  evidenced 
the  glory  of  his  unspotted  soul,  by  surprising  soundness,  and 
a  kind  of  milky  whiteness.  The  head,  which  was  formerly 
divided  from  the  neck,  is  again  united  to  the  rest  of  the  body 
showing  only  the  sign  of  martyrdom  by  a  purple  seam.  One 
circumstance  indeed  surpasses  human  miracles,  which  is,  that 
the  hair  and  nails  of  the  dead  man  continue  to  grow  :  these, 
Oswen,  a  holy  woman,  used  yearly  to  clip  and  cut,  that  they 
might  be  objects  of  veneration  to  posterity.  Truly  this  was 
a  holy  temerity,  for  a  woman  to  contemplate  and  handle 
limbs  superior  to  the  whole  of  this  world.  Not  so  Leofstan, 
a  youth  of  bold  and  untamed  insolence,  who,  with  many  im- 
pertinent threats,  commanded  the  body  of  the  martyr  to  be 
shown  to  him  ;  for  he  was  desirous,  as  he  said,  of  settling 
the  uncertainty  of  report  by  the  testimony  of  his  own  eye- 
sight.    He  paid  dearly,  however,  for  his  audacious  experi- 


242  WILLIAM  OF  MALMESBURY.  [b.  n.  c.  13, 

ment ;  for  he  became  insane,  and  shortly  after,  died,  swarming 
with  vermin.  He  felt  indeed  that  Edmund  was  now  capable 
of  doing,  what  he  before  used  to  do  ;  that  is, 

"  To  spare  the  suppliant,  but  confound  the  proud," 

by  which  means  he  so  completely  engaged  the  inhabitants  of 
aU  Britain  to  him,  that  every  person  looked  upon  himself  as 
particularly  happy,  in  contributing  either  money  or  gifts  to 
St.  Edmund's  monastery  :  even  kings  themselves,  who  rule 
others,  used  to  boast  of  being  his  servants,  and  sent  him  their 
royal  crown  ;  redeeming  it,  if  they  wished  to  use  it,  at  a 
great  price.  The  exactors  of  taxes  also,  who,  in  other  places, 
gave  loose  to  injustice,  were  there  suppliant,  and  ceased  their 
cavilling  at  St.  Edmund's  boundary,*  admonished  thereto  by 
the  punishment  of  others  who  had  presumed  to  overpass  it. 

My  commendations  shall  also  glance  at  the  names  of  some 
maidens  of  the  royal  race,  though  I  must  claim  indulgence 
for  being  brief  upon  the  subject,  not  through  fastidiousness, 
but  because  I  am  unacquainted  with  their  miracles.  Anna 
king  of  the  East  Angles  had  three  daughters,  Etheldrida, 
Ethelberga,  and  Sexberga.  Etheldrida,  though  married  to 
two  husbands,  yet  by  means  of  saintly  continence,  as  Bede 
relates,  without  any  diminution  of  modesty,  without  a  single 
lustful  inclination,  triumphantly  displayed  to  heaven  the 
palm  of  perpetual  virginity.  Ethelberga,  first  a  nun,  and 
afterwards  abbess,  in  a  monastery  in  France  called  Brigis,| 
was  celebrated  for  unblemished  chastity  ;  and  it  is  well  wor- 
thy of  remark,  that  as  both  sisters  had  subdued  the  lusts  of 
the  flesh  while  living,  so,  when  dead,  their  bodies  remained 
uncorrupt,  the  one  in  England,  and  the  other  in  France  ;  in- 
somuch, that  their  sanctity,  which  is  abundantly  resplendent, 
may  suffice 

"  To  cast  its  radiance  over  both  the  poles." 

Sexberga  was  married  to  Erconbert  king  of  Kent,  and, 
after  his  death,  took  the  veil  in  the  same  monastery  where 
her  sister  Etheldrida  was  proclaimed  a  saint.  She  had  two 
daughters  by  king  Erconbert,  Earcongota  and  Ermenhilda. 

•  This  boundary  is  said  to  have  been  formed  by  Canute,  in  consequence 
of  his  father  Sweyn  having  been  killed  by  St.  Edmund  in  a  vision  for 
attempting  to  plunder  his  territory.  See  Malm,  de  Gest.  Pontif.  lib.  ii. 
f.  136,  b.  edit.  Lond.  +  Faremoutier  in  Brie, 


Of  Ercongota,  such  as  wish  for  information  will  find  it  in 
Bede ;  *  Ermenhilda  married  Wulf  here,  king  of  the  Mer- 
cians, and  had  a  daughter,  Werburga,  a  most  holj  virgin. 
Both  are  saints  :  the  mother,  that  is  to  saj,  St.  Ermenhilda, 
rests  at  Ely,  where  she  was  abbess  after  her  mother,  Sex- 
berga  ;  and  the  daughter  lies  at  Chester,  in  the  monastery  of 
that  city,  which  Hugo  earl  of  Chester,  ejecting  a  few  canons 
who  resided  there  in  a  mean  and  irregular  manner,  has  re- 
cently erected.  The  praises  and  miracles  of  both  these 
women,  and  particularly  of  the  younger,  are  there  ex- 
tolled and  held  in  veneration  ;  and  though  they  are  fa- 
vourable to  aU  petitions  without  delay,  yet  are  they  more 
especially  kind  and  assistant  to  the  supplications  of  women 
and  youths. 

Merewald  the  brother  of  Wulfhere,  by  Ermenburga,  the 
daughter  of  Ermenred  brother  of  Erconbert  king  of  Kent, 
had  two  daughters  :  Mildritha  and  Milburga.  Mildritha, 
dedicating  herself  to  celibacy,  ended  her  days  in  the  Isle  of 
Thanet  in  Kent,  which  king  Egbert  had  given  to  her  mo- 
ther, to  atone  for  the  murder  of  her  brothers,  Ethelred  and 
Ethelbert.f  In  after  times,  being  transferred  to  St.  Augus- 
tine's monastery  at  Canterbury,  she  is  there  honoured  by  the 
marked  attention  of  the  monks,  and  celebrated  equally  for 
her  kindness  and  affability  to  all,  as  her  name|  implies.  And 
although  almost  every  corner  of  that  monastery  is  filled  with 
the  bodies  of  saints  of  great  name  and  merit,  any  one  of 
which  would  be  of  itself  sufficient  to  irradiate  all  England, 
yet  no  one  is  there  more  revered,  more  loved,  or  more  grate- 
fully remembered  ;  and  she,  turning  a  deaf  ear  to  none  who 
love  her,  is  present  to  them  in  the  salvation  of  their  souls. 

Milburga  reposes  at  Wenlock  ;§  formerly  well  known  to  the 
neighbouring  inhabitants  ;  but  for  some  time  after  the  arri- 
val of  the  Normans,  through  ignorance  of  the  place  of  her 
burial,  she  was  neglected.     Lately,  however,  a  convent  of 

*  Hist.  Eccl.  b.  iii.  c.  8,  p.  122. 

+  In  b.  i,  c.  1,  p.  15,  it  is  said  the  compensation  for  their  murder  was  made 
to  their  mother  ;  but  here  she  is  called  their  sister,  which  is  the  general  ac- 
count. When  it  was  left  to  her  to  estimate  this  compensation  (i.  e.  their 
weregild),  she  asked  as  much  land  as  her  stag  should  compass,  at  one 
coiu^e,  in  the  Isle  of  Thanet ;  where  she  founded  the  monastery  of  Min- 
ster. Vide  W.  Thorn,  col.  1910,  and  Natale  S.  Mildrythee  (Saxonice),  MS. 
Cott.  Calig.  A.  xiv.  4.  $  "  Mild"  gentle.  $  In  Shropshire. 

244  WILLIAM  OF  MALMESBURT.  [a.  ii.  c.  13. 

Clugniac  monks  being  established  there,  while  a  new  church 
was  erecting,  a  certain  boy  running  violently  along  the  pave- 
ment, broke  into  the  hollow  of  the  vault,  and  discovered  the 
body  of  the  virgin  ;  when  a  balsamic  odour  pervading  the 
whole  church,  she  was  taken  up,  and  performed  so  many 
miracles,  that  the  people  flocked  thither  in  great  multitudes. 
Large  spreading  plains  could  hardly  contain  the  troops  of 
pilgrims,  while  rich  and  poor  came  side  by  side,  one  common 
faith  impelling  all.  Nor  did  the  event  deceive  their  expect- 
ations :  for  no  one  departed,  without  either  a  perfect  cure, 
or  considerable  abatement  of  his  malady,  and  some  were  even 
healed  of  the  king's  evil,  by  the  merits  of  this  virgin,  when 
medical  assistance  was  unavailing. 

Edward  the  Elder,  of  whom  I  have  before  spoken  at  large, 
had  by  his  wife  Edgiva,  several  daughters.  Among  these 
was  Eadburga,  who,  when  she  was  scarcely  three  years  old, 
gave  a  singular  indication  of  her  future  sanctity.  Her  fa- 
ther was  inclined  to  try  whether  the  little  girl  was  inclined 
to  God,  or  to  the  world,  and  had  placed  in  a  chamber  the 
symbols  of  diiferent  professions  ;  on  one  side  a  chalice,  and 
the  gospels  ;  on  the  other,  bracelets  and  necklaces.  Hither 
the  child  was  brought  in  the  arms  of  her  indulgent  attendant, 
and,  sitting  on  her  father's  knee,  was  desired  to  choose  which 
she  pleased.  Rejecting  the  earthly  ornaments  with  stern 
regard,  she  instantly  fell  prostrate  before  the  chalice  and  the 
gospels,  and  worshipped  them  with  infant  adoration.  The 
company  present  exclaimed  aloud,  and  fondly  hailed  the 
prospect  of  the  child's  future  sanctity  ;  her  father  embraced 
the  infant  in  a  manner  still  more  endearing.  "  Go,"  said  he, 
"  whither  the  Divinity  calls  thee  ;  follow  with  prosperous 
steps  the  spouse  whom  thou  hast  chosen,  and  truly  blessed 
shall  my  wife  and  myself  be,  if  we  are  surpassed  in  holiness 
by  our  daughter."  When  clothed  in  the  garb  of  a  nun,  she 
gained  the  affection  of  all  her  female  companions,  in  the  city 
of  Winchester,  by  the  marked  attention  she  paid  them.  Nor 
did  the  greatness  of  her  birth  elevate  her  ;  as  she  esteemed 
it  noble  to  stoop  to  the  service  of  Christ.  Her  sanctity  in- 
creased with  her  years,  her  humility  kept  pace  with  her 
growth  ;  so  that  she  used  secretly  to  steal  away  the  socks  of 
the  several  nuns  at  night,  and,  carefully  washing  and  anoint- 
ing them,   lay   them   again   upon   their  beds.     Wherefore, 

A.D.  1065.]  ST.  EDITHA's  CHASTITY.  245 

though  God  signalized  her,  while  living,  bj  many  miracles, 
yet  I  more  particularly  bring  forward  this  circumstance,  to 
show  that  charity  began  all  her  works,  and  humility  com- 
pleted them  :  and  finally,  many  miracles  in  her  life-time,  and 
since  her  death,  confirm  the  devotion  of  her  heart  and  the 
incorruptness  of  her  body,  which  the  attendants  at  her 
churches  at  Winchester  and  Pershore  relate  to  such  as  are 
unacquainted  with  them. 

St.  Editha,  the  daughter  of  king  Edgar,  ennobles,  with 
her  relics,  the  monastery  of  Wilton,  where  she  was  buried, 
and  cherishes  that  place  with  her  regard,  where,  trained  from 
her  infancy  in  the  school  of  the  Lord,  she  gained  his  favour 
by  unsullied  virginity,  and  constant  watchings  :  repressing 
the  pride  of  her  high  birth  by  her  humility.  I  have  heard 
one  circumstance  of  her,  from  persons  of  elder  days,  wliich 
greatly  staggered  the  opinions  of  men  :  for  she  led  them  into 
false  conclusions  from  the  splendour  of  her  costly  dress  ; 
being  always  habited  in  richer  garb  than  the  sanctity  of  her 
profession  seemed  to  require.  On  this  account,  being  openly 
rebuked  by  St.  Ethelwold,  she  is  reported  to  have  answered 
with  equal  point  and  wit,  that  the  judgment  of  God  was 
true  and  irrefragable,  while  that  of  man,  alone,  was  fallible  ; 
for  pride  might  exist  even  under  the  garb  of  wretchedness  : 
wherefore,  "  I  think,"  said  she,  "  tliat  a  mind  may  be  as  pure 
beneath  these  vestments,  as  under  your  tattered  furs."  The 
bishop  was  deeply  struck  by  tliis  speech  ;  admitting  its  truth 
by  his  silence,  and  blushing  with  pleasure  that  he  had  been 
chastised  by  the  sparkling  repartee  of  the  lady,  he  held  his 
peace.  St.  Dunstan  had  observed  her,  at  the  consecration  of 
the  church  of  St.  Denys,  which  she  had  built  out  of  affection 
to  that  martyr,  frequently  stretching  out  her  right  thumb, 
and  making  the  sign  of  the  cross  upon  her  forehead  ;  and 
being  extremely  delighted  at  it,  "  May  this  finger,"  he  ex- 
claimed, "never  see  corruption:"  and  immediately,  while 
celebrating  mass,  he  burst  into  such  a  flood  of  tears,  that  he 
alarmed  with  his  faltering  voice  an  assistant  standing  near 
him  ;  who  inquiring  the  reason  of  it,  "  Soon,"  said  he,  "  shall 
this  blooming  rose  wither  ;  soon  shall  this  beloved  bird  take 
its  flight  to  God,  after  the  expiration  of  six  weeks  from  this 
time."  The  truth  of  the  prelate's  prophecy  was  very  shortly 
fulfilled  ;  for  on  the  appointed  day,  this  noble,  firmly-minded 

246  WILLIAM  OF  MALMESBURY.  [b-  "-  c.  33. 

ladj,  expired  in  her  prime,  at  the  age  of  twenty-three  years. 
Soon  after,  the  same  saint  saw,  in  a  dream,  St.  Denys  kindly 
taking  the  virgin  by  the  hand,  and  strictly  enjoining,  by 
divine  command,  that  she  should  be  honoured  by  her  servants 
on  earth,  in  the  same  manner  as  she  was  venerated  by  her 
spouse  and  master  in  heaven.  Miracles  multiplying  at  her 
tomb,  it  was  ordered,  that  her  virgin  body  should  be  taken 
up,  and  exalted  in  a  shrine  ;  when  the  whole  of  it  was  found 
resolved  into  dust,  except  the  finger,  with  the  abdomen  and 
parts  adjacent.  In  consequence  of  which,  some  debate  ari- 
sing, the  virgin  herself  appeared,  in  a  dream,  to  one  of  those 
who  had  seen  her  remains,  saying,  "  It  was  no  wonder,  if  the 
other  parts  of  the  body  had  decayed,  since  it  was  customary 
for  dead  bodies  to  moulder  to  their  native  dust,  and  she,  per- 
haps, as  a  girl,  had  sinned  with  those  members  ;  but  it  was 
highly  just,  that  the  abdomen  should  see  no  corruption  which 
had  never  felt  the  sting  of  lust ;  as  she  had  been  entirely  free 
from  gluttony  or  carnal  copulation." 

Truly  both  these  virgins  support  their  respective  monas- 
teries by  their  merits  ;  each  of  them  being  filled  with  large 
assemblies  of  nuns,  who  answer  obediently  to  the  call  of  their 
mistresses  and  patronesses,  inviting  them  to  virtue.  Happy 
the  man,  who  becomes  partaker  of  those  virgin  orisons  which 
the  Lord  Jesus  favours  with  kind  regard.  For,  as  I  have 
remarked  of  the  nuns  of  Shaftesbury,  all  virtues  have  long 
since  quitted  the  earth,  and  retired  to  heaven  ;  or,  if  any 
where,  (but  this  I  must  say  with  the  permission  of  holy 
men,)  are  to  be  found  only  in  the  hearts  of  nuns  ;  and  surely 
those  women  are  highly  to  be  praised,  who,  regardless  of  the 
weakness  of  their  sex,  vie  with  each  other  in  the  preservation 
of  their  continence,  and  by  such  means  ascend,  triumphant, 
to  heaven. 

I  think  it  of  importance  to  have  been  acquainted  with  many 
of  the  royal  family  of  either  sex  ;  as  it  may  be  gathered 
from  thence  that  king  Edward,  concerning  whom  I  was 
spealdng  before  I  digressed,  by  no  means  degenerated  from 
the  virtues  of  his  ancestors.  In  fact  he  was  famed  both  for 
miracles,  and  for  the  spirit  of  prophecy,  as  I  shall  hereafter 
relate.  In  the  exaction  of  taxes  he  was  sparing,  and  he 
abominated  the  insolence  of  collectors :  in  eating  and 
drinking  he  was  free  from  the  voluptuousness  which  his 

■4.    { 


A.D.  1065.]  ORIGIN   OF    THE   ItOYAL    TOUCH.  247 

state  allowed  :  on  the  more  solemn  festivals,  though  dressed 
in  robes  intei-woven  with  gold,  which  the  queen  had  most 
splendidly  embroidered,  yet  still  he  had  such  forbearance, 
as  to  be  sufficiently  majestic,  without  being  haughty  ;  con- 
sidering in  such  matters,  rather  the  bounty  of  Gk)d,  than  the 
pomp  of  the  world.  There  was  one  earthly  enjoyment  in 
which  he  chiefly  delighted  ;  which  was,  hunting  with  fleet 
hounds,  whose  opening  in  the  woods  he  used  with  pleasure 
to  encourage  :  and  again,  with  the  pouncing  of  birds,  whose 
nature  it  is  to  prey  on  their  kindred  species.  In  these 
exercises,  after  hearing  divine  service  in  the  morning,  he 
employed  himself  whole  days.  In  other  respects  he  was  a 
man  by  choice  devoted  to  God,  and  lived  the  life  of  an  angel 
in  the  administration  of  his  kingdom.  To  the  poor  and  to 
the  stranger,  more  especially  foreigners  and  men  of  religious 
orders,  he  was  kind  in  invitation,  munificent  in  his  presents, 
and  constantly  exciting  the  monks  of  his  own  country  to 
imitate  their  holiness.  He  was  of  a  becoming  stature  ;  his 
beard  and  hair  milk-white ;  his  countenance  florid  ;  fair 
throughout  his  whole  person  ;  and  his  form  of  admirable 

The  happiness  of  his  times  had  been  revealed  in  a  dream 
to  Brithwin  bishop  of  Wilton,  who  had  made  it  public. 
For  in  the  time  of  Canute,  when,  at  Glastonbury,  he  was 
once  intent  on  heavenly  watchings,  and  the  thought  of  the 
near  extinction  of  the  royal  race  of  the  Angles,  which 
frequently  distressed  him,  came  into  his  mind,  sleep  stole 
upon  him  thus  meditating  ;  when  behold  !  he  was  rapt  on 
high,  and  saw  Peter,  the  chief  of  the  apostles,  consecrating 
Edward,  who  at  that  time  was  an  exile  in  Normandy,  king  ; 
his  chaste  life  too  was  pointed  out,  and  the  exact  period 
of  his  reign,  twenty-four  years,  determined ;  and,  when 
inquiring  about  his  posterity,  it  was  answered,  "  The 
kingdom  of  the  English  belongs  to  God  ;  after  you  he  will 
provide  a  king  according  to  his  pleasure." 

But  now  to  speak  of  his  miracles.  A  young  woman  had 
married  a  husband  of  her  own  age,  but  having  no  issue  by 
the  union,  the  humours  collecting  abundantly  about  her  neck, 
she  had  contracted  a  sore  disorder  ;  the  glands  swelling 
in  a  dreadful  manner.  Admonished  in  a  dream  to  have  the 
part  affected  washed  by  the  king,  she  entered  the  palace,  and 

24S  WILLIAM   OF   MALMESBUET.  [b.  n.  e.  IS. 

the  king  himself  fulfilled  this  labour  of  love,  by  rubbing  the 
woman's  neck  with  his  fingers  dipped  in  water.  Joyous 
health  followed  his  healing  hand :  the  lurid  skin  opened,  so 
that  worms  flowed  out  with  the  purulent  matter,  and  the 
tumour  subsided.  But  as  the  orifice  of  the  ulcers  was  large 
and  unsightly,  he  commanded  her  to  be  supported  at  the 
royal  expense  till  she  should  be  perfectly  cured.  However, 
before  a  week  was  expired,  a  fair,  new  skin  returned,  and 
liid  the  scars  so  completely,  that  nothing  of  the  original 
wound  could  be  discovered  :  and  within  a  year  becoming  the 
mother  of  twins,  she  increased  the  admiration  of  Edward'^s 
holiness.  Those  who  knew  him  more  intimately,  affirm  that 
he  often  cured  this  complaint  in  Normandy :  whence  appears 
how  false  is  their  notion,  who  in  our  times  assert,  that  the 
cure  of  this  disease  does  not  proceed  from  pers<^>nal  sanctity, 
but  from  hereditary  virtue  in  the  royal  line. 

A  certain  man,  blind  from  some  unknown  mischance,  had 
persisted  in  asserting  about  the  palace,  that  he  should  be 
cured,  if  he  could  touch  his  eyes  with  the  water  in  which 
the  king's  hands  had  been  washed.  This  was  frequently 
related  to  Edward,  who  derided  it,  and  looked  angrily  on  the 
persons  who  mentioned  it ;  confessing  himself  a  sinner,  and 
that  the  works  of  holy  men  did  not  belong  to  him.  But  the 
servants,  thinking  this  a  matter  not  to  be  neglected,  tried  the 
experiment  when  he  was  ignorant  of  it,  and  was  praying  in 
church.  The  instant  the  blind  man  was  washed  with  the 
water,  the  long-enduring  darkness  fled  from  his  eyes,  and 
they  were  filled  with  joyful  light ;  and  the  king,  inquiring 
the  cause  of  the  grateful  clamour  of  the  by-standers,  was 
informed  of  the  fact.  Presently  afterwards,  when,  by 
thrusting  his  fingers  towards  the  eyes  of  the  man  he  had 
cured,  and  perceiving  him  draw  back  his  head  to  avoid 
them,  he  had  made  proof  of  his  sight,  he,  with  uplifted  hands, 
returned  thanks  to  God.  In  the  same  way  he  cured  a  blind 
man  at  Lincoln,  who  survived  him  many  years,  a  proof  of 
the  royal  miracle. 

That  you  may  know  the  perfect  virtue  of  this  prince,  in 
the  power  of  healing  more  especially,  I  shall  add  something 
which  will  excite  your  wonder.  Wulwin,  surnamed  Spille- 
corn,  the  son  of  Wulmar  of  Nutgareshale,  was  one  day 
cutting  timber  in  the  wood  of  Bruelle,  and  indulging  in  a 

A.D.  1065.J  KING  Edward's  "vasiONS.  249 

long  sleep  after  his  labour,  lie  lost  his  sight  for  seventeen 
years,  from  the  blood,  as  I  imagine,  stagnating  about  his 
eyes  :  at  the  end  of  this  time,  he  was  admonished  in  a 
dream  to  go  round  to  eighty-seven  churches,  and  earnestly 
entreat  a  cure  of  his  blindness  from  the  saints.  At  last  he 
came  to  the  king's  court,  where  he  remained  for  a  long  time, 
in  vain,  in  opposition  to  the  attendants,  at  the  vestibule  of 
his  chamber.  He  still  continued  importunate,  however, 
without  being  deterred,  till  at  last,  after  much  difficulty,  he 
was  admitted  by  order  of  the  king.  When  he  had  heard  the 
dream,  he  mildly  answered,  "  By  my  lady  St.  Mary,  I  shall 
be  truly  grateful,  if  God,  through  my  means,  shall  choose  to 
take  pity  upon  a  wretched  creature."  In  consequence^ 
though  he  had  no  confidence  in  himself,  with  respect  to 
miracles,  yet,  at  the  instigation  of  his  servants,  he  placed  his 
hand,  dipped  in  water,  on  the  blind  man.  In  a  moment  the 
blood  dripped  plentifully  from  his  eyes,  and  the  man,  restored 
to  sight,  exclaimed  with  rapture,  "  I  see  you,  0  king  !  I  see 
you,  O  king  ! "  In  this  recovered  state,  he  had  charge  of 
the  royal  palace  at  Windsor,  for  there  the  cure  had  been 
performed,  for  a  long  time  ;  surviving  his  restorer  several 
years.  On  the  same  day,  from  the  same  water,  three  bhnd 
men,  and  a  man  with  one  eye,  who  were  supported  on  the 
royal  arms,  received  a  cure  ;  the  servants  administering  the 
healing  water  with  perfect  confidence. 

On  Easter- day,  he  was  sitting  at  table  at  Westminster, 
with  the  crown  on  his  head,  and  surrounded  by  a  crowd  of 
nobles.  While  the  rest  were  greedily  eating,  and  making  up 
for  the  long  fast  of  Lent  by  the  newly  provided  viands,  he, 
with  mind  abstracted  from  earthly  things,  was  absorbed  in 
the  contemplation  of  some  divine  matter,  when  presently  he 
excited  the  attention  of  the  guests  by  bursting  into  profuse 
laughter :  and  as  none  presumed  to  inquire  into  the  cause  of  his 
joy,  he  remained  silent  as  before,  till  satiety  had  put  an  end 
to  the  banquet.  After  the  tables  were  removed,  and  as  he 
was  unrobing  in  his  chamber,  three  persons  of  rank  followed 
him  ;  of  these  earl  Harold  was  one,  the  second  was  an  abbat, 
and  the  third  a  bishop,  who  presuming  on  their  intimacy 
asked  the  cause  of  his  laughter,  observing,  that  it  seemed  just 
matter  of  astonishment  to  see  him,  in  such  perfect  tranquillity 
both  of  time  and  occupation,  burst  into  a  vulgar  laugh,  while 

250  "WILLIAM  OF  MAXMESBURY.  [b.  ii.  c.  13- 

all  others  were  silent.  "  I  saw  something  wonderful,"  said 
he,  "and  therefore  I  did  not  laugh  without  a  cause."  At 
this,  as  is  the  custom  of  mankind,  they  began  to  inquire  and 
search  into  the  matter  more  earnestly,  entreating  that  he 
would  condescend  to  disclose  it  to  them.  After  much  reluct- 
ance, he  yielded  to  their  persevering  solicitations,  and  re- 
lated the  following  wonderful  circumstance,  saying,  that  the 
Seven  Sleepers  in  mount  Coelius  had  now  lain  for  two  hun- 
dred years  on  their  right  side,  but  that,  at  the  very  hour  of 
his  laughter,  they  turned  upon  their  left ;  that  they  would 
continue  to  lie  in  this  manner  for  seventy-four  years,  which 
would  be  a  dreadful  omen  to  wretched  mortals.  For  every 
thing  would  come  to  pass,  in  these  seventy-four  years,  which 
the  Lord  had  foretold  to  his  disciples  concerning  the  end  of 
the  world ;  nation  would  rise  against  nation,  and  kingdom 
against  kingdom;  earthquakes  v/ould  be  in  divers  places; 
pestilence  and  famine,  terrors  from  heaven  and  great  signs ; 
changes  in  kingdoms  ;  wars  of  the  gentiles  against  the  Chris- 
tians, and  also  victories  of  the  Christians  over  the  pagans. 
Relating  these  matters  to  his  wondering  audience,  he  de- 
scanted on  the  passion  of  these  sleepers,  and  the  make  of 
their  bodies,  though  totally  unnoticed  in  history,  as  readily 
as  though  he  had  lived  in  daily  intercourse  with  them.  On 
hearing  this  the  earl  sent  a  knight ;  the  bishop  a  clergyman ; 
and  the  abbat  a  monk,  to  Maniches  the  Constant] nopolitan 
emperor,  to  investigate  the  truth  of  his  declaration ;  adding 
letters  and  presents  from  the  king.  After  being  kindly 
entertained,  Maniches  sent  them  to  the  bishop  of  Ephesus, 
giving  them  at  the  same  time  what  is  called  a  holy  letter, 
that  the  martyr-relics  of  the  Seven  Sleepers  should  be  shown 
to  the  delegates  of  the  king  of  England.*     It  fell  out  that 

*  The  Seven  Sleepers  were  inhabitants  of  Ephesus  ;  six  were  persons  of 
some  consequence,  the  seventh  their  servant.  During  the  Decian  persecu- 
tion they  retired  to  a  cave,  whence  they  despatched  their  attendant  occasion- 
ally to  purchase  food  for  them.  Decius,  hearing  this,  ordered  the  mouth  of  the 
cave  to  be  stopped  up  while  the  fugitives  were  sleeping.  After  a  lapse  of  some 
hundred  years,  a  part  of  the  masonry  at  the  mouth  of  the  cave  falling,  the 
light  flowing  in  awakened  them.  Thinking  they  had  enjoyed  a  good  night's 
rest,  they  despatched  their  servant  to  buy  provision.  He  finds  all  appear 
strange  in  Ephesus,  and  a  whimsical  dialogue  takes  place,  the  citizens 
accusing  him  of  having  found  hidden  treasure,  he  persisting  that  he  offered 
the  current  coin  of  the  empire.     At  length  the  attention  of  the  emperor 

AD.  1065.]  POPES  AND  EMPERORS.  251 

the  presage  of  king  Edward  was  proved  by  all  the  Greeks, 
who  could  swear  they  had  heard  from  their  fathers  that  the 
men  were  lying  on  their  right  side ;  hut  after  the  entrance  of 
the  English  into  the  vault,  they  published  the  truth  of  the 
foreign  prophecy  to  their  countrymen.  Nor  was  it  long  be- 
fore the  predicted  evils  came  to  pass ;  for  the  Hagarens,  and 
Arabs,  and  Turks,  nations  averse  to  Christ,  making  havoc  of 
the  Christians,  overran  Syria,  and  Lycia,  and  Asia  Minor 
altogether,  devastating  many  cities  too  of  Asia  Major,  among 
which  was  Ephesus,  and  even  Jerusalem  itself  At  the  same 
time,  on  the  death  of  Maniches  emperor  of  Constantinople, 
Diogenes,  and  Michaelius,  and  Bucinacius,  and  Alexius,  in 
turn  hurled  each  other  headlong  from  the  throne  ;  the  last  of 
whom,  continuing  till  our  time,  left  for  heir  his  son  John  more 
noted  for  cunning  and  deceit  than  worth.  He  contrived 
many  hurtful  plots  against  the  pilgrims  on  their  sacred  jour- 
ney; but  venerating  the  fidelity  of  the  English,  he  showed 
them  every  civility,  and  transmitted  his  regard  for  them  to 
his  son.*  In  the  next  seven  years  were  three  popes,  Victor, 
Stephen,  Nicholas,!  who  diminished  the  vigour  of  the  papacy 
by  their  successive  deaths.  Almost  immediately  afterwards  too 
died  Henry,  the  pious  emperor  of  the  Romans,  and  had  for  suc- 
cessor Henry  his  son,  who  brought  many  calamities  on  the  city 
of  Rome  by  his  folly  and  his  wickedness.  The  same  year 
Henry,  king  of  France,  a  good  and  active  warrior,  died  by  poi- 
son. Soon  after  a  comet,  a  star  denoting,  as  they  say,  change  in 
kingdoms,  appeared  trailing  its  extended  and  fiery  train  along 
the  sky.  Wherefore  a  certain  monk  of  our  monastery, |  by 
name  Elmer,  bowing  down  with  terror  at  the  sight  of  the 
brilliant  star,  wisely  exclaimed,  "  Thou  art  come  !  a  matter  of 
lamentation  to  many  a  mother  art  thou  come ;  I  have  seen 

is  excited,  and  he  goes  in  company  with  the  bishop  to  visit  them.  They 
relate  their  story  and  shortly  after  expire.  In  consequence  of  the  miracle 
they  were  considered  as  martyrs.     See  Capgrave,  Legenda  Nova. 

*  On  the  Norman  conquest  many  English  fled  to  Constantinople,  where 
they  were  eagerly  received  by  Alexius,  and  opposed  to  the  Normans  under 
Robert  Guiscard.     Orderic.  Vitalis,  p.  508. 

t  Victor  II.  succeeded  Leo IX.  in  1056,  and  died  in  1057.  Stephen  or 
Frederic,  brother  of  duke  Godefroi,  succeeded  Victor  II.  on  the  second  of 
August,  1057,  and  Nicolaus  became  pope  in  1059. 

:J:  That  is,  of  Malmesbury.  This  Elmer  is  not  to  be  confoimded  with 
Elmer  or  Ailmer  prior  of  Canterbury. 

252'  WILLIAM  OF  MALMESBURY.  |b.  ii.  c.  13. 

thee  long  since ;  but  I  now  behold  thee  much  more  terrible, 
threatening  to  hurl  destruction  on  this  country."  He  was  a 
man  of  good  learning  for  those  times,  of  mature  age,  and  in  his 
early  youth  had  hazarded  an  attempt  of  singular  temerity. 
He  had  by  some  contrivance  fastened  wings  to  his  hands  and 
feet,  in  order  that,  looking  upon  the  fable  as  true,  he  might 
fly  like  Dcedalus,  and  collecting  the  air  on  the  summit  of  a 
tower,  had  flown  for  more  than  the  distance  of  a  furlong ; 
but,  agitated  by  the  violence  of  the  wind  and  the  current  of 
air,  as  well  as  by  the  consciousness  of  his  rash  attempt,  he 
fell  and  broke  his  legs,  and  was  lame  ever  after.  He  used 
to  relate  as  the  cause  of  his  failure,  his  forgetting  to  provide 
himself  a  tail. 

Another  prophecy  similar  to  this,  Edward  uttered  when 
dying,  which  I  shall  here  anticipate.  When  he  had  lain  two 
days  speechless,  on  the  third,  sadly  and  deeply  sighing  as  he 
awoke  from  his  torpor,  "  Almighty  God,"  said  he,  "  as  this 
shall  be  a  real  vision,  or  a  vain  illusion,  which  I  have  seen, 
grant  me  the  power  of  explaining  it,  or  not,  to  the  by- 
standers." Soon  after  speaking  fluently,  "  I  saw  just  now," 
continued  he,  "  two  monks  near  me,  whom  formerly,  when 
a  youth  in  Normandy,  I  knew  both  to  have  lived  in  a  most 
religious  manner,  and  to  have  died  like  perfect  Christians. 
These  men,  announcing  themselves  as  the  messengers  of  God, 
spake  to  the  following  effect :  '  Since  the  chiefs  of  England, 
the  dukes,  bishops,  and  abbats,  are  not  the  ministers  of  God, 
but  of  the  devil,  God,  after  your  death,  has  delivered  this 
kingdom  for  a  year  and  a  day,  into  the  hand  of  the  enemy, 
and  devils  shall  wander  over  all  the  land.'  And  when  I  said 
that  I  would  shoAv  these  things  to  my  people  ;  and  promised 
that  they  should  liberate  themselves  by  repentance,  after  the 
old  example  of  the  Ninevites  ;  '  Neither  of  these,'  said  they, 
'  shall  take  place  ;  for  they  will  not  repent,  nor  will  God 
have  mercy  on  them.'  When  then,  said  I,  may  cessation 
from  such  great  calamities  be  hoped  for  ?  They  replied, 
^  Whenever  a  green  tree  shall  be  cut  through  the  middle,  and 
the  part  cut  off,  being  carried  the  space  of  three  acres  from 
the  trunk,  shall,  without  any  assistance,  become  again  united 
to  its  stem,  bud  out  with  flowers,  and  stretch  forth  its  fruit, 
as  before,  from  the  sap  again  uniting  ;  then  may  a  cessation 
of  such  evils  be  at  last  expected.'  " 

A. D.  1065.]  DEATH    OF    EDWARJ).  253 

Though  others  were  apprehensive  of  the  truth  of  this 
prediction,  jet  Stigand,  at  that  time  archbishop,  received 
it  with  laughter  ;  saying,  that  the  old  man  doted  through 
disease.  We,  however,  find  the  truth  of  the  presage  experi- 
mentally ;  for  England  is  become  the  residence  of  foreigners, 
and  the  property  of  strangers  :  at  the  present  time,  there  is 
no  Englishman,  either  earl,  bishop,  or  abbat ;  strangers  all, 
they  prey  upon  the  riches  and  vitals  of  England  ;  nor  is 
there  any  hope  of  a  termination  to  this  misery.  The  cause 
of  which  evil,  as  I  have  long  since  promised,  it  is  now  high 
time  that  my  narrative  should  endeavour  briefly  to  disclose. 

King  Edward  declining  into  years,  as  he  had  no  children 
himself,  and  saw  the  sons  of  Godwin  growing  in  power,  de- 
spatched messengers  to  the  king  of  Hungary,  to  send  over 
Edward,  the  son  of  his  brother  Edmund,  with  all  his  family  : 
intending,  as  he  declared,  that  either  he,  or  his  sons,  should 
succeed  to  the  hereditary  kingdom  of  England,  and  that  his 
own  want  of  issu«  should  be  supplied  by  that  of  his  kindred. 
Edward  came  in  consequence,  but  died  almost  immediately 
at  St.  Paul's*  in  London  :  he  was  neither  valiant,  nor  a  man 
of  abilities.  He  left  three  surviving  children  ;  that  is  to 
say,  Edgar,  who,  after  the  death  of  Harold,  was  by  some 
elected  king  ;  and  who,  after  many  revolutions  of  fortune,  is 
now  living  wholly  retired  in  the  country,  in  extreme  old  age  : 
Christina,  who  grew  old  at  Romsey  in  the  habit  of  a  nun  : 
Margaret,  whom  Malcolm  king  of  the  Scots  espoused.  Bless- 
ed with  a  numerous  offspring,  her  sons  were  Edgar,  and 
Alexander,  who  reigned  in  Scotland  after  their  father  in  due 
succession  :  for  the  eldest,  Edward,  had  fallen  in  battle  with 
his  father  ;  the  youngest,  David,  noted  for  his  meekness  and 
discretion,  is  at  present  king  of  Scotland.  Her  daughters 
were,  Matilda,  whom  in  our  time  king  Henry  has  married, 
and  Maria,  whom  Eustace  the  younger,  earl  of  Boulogne, 
espoused.  The  king,  in  consequence  of  the  death  of  his  rela- 
tion, losing  his  first  hope  of  support,  gave  the  succession  of 
England  to  William  earl  of  Normandy.j"  He  was  well 
worthy  of  such  a  gift,  being  a  young  man  of  superior  mind, 
who  had  raised  himself  to  the  highest  eminence  by  his  un- 

•  Died  and  was  buried  at  St.  Paul's.    Sax.  Chron.  A.  1057. 
t  It  is  hardly  necessary  to  observe,  that  the  succession  of  William  is  one 
of  the  most  obscure  points  in  our  history. 

254  WILLIAM   OF   MALMESBURY.  [b.  ix.  c.  13. 

wearied  exertion  :  moreover,  he  was  liis  nearest  relation  by 
consanguinity,  as  he  was  the  son  of  Robert,  the  son  of  Richard 
the  second,  whom  we  have  repeatedly  mentioned  as  the 
brother  of  Emma,  Edward's  mother.  Some  affirm  that 
Harold  himself  was  sent  into  Normandy  by  the  king  for  this 
purpose  :  others,  who  knew  Harold's  more  secret  intentions, 
say,  that  being  driven  thither  against  his  will,  by  the  violence 
of  the  wind,  he  imagined  this  device,  in  order  to  extricate 
himself.  This,  as  it  appears  nearest  the  truth,  I  shall  relate. 
Harold  being  at  his  country-seat  at  Boseham,*  went  for 
recreation  on  board  a  fishing  boat,  and,  for  the  purpose  of 
prolonging  his  sport,  put  out  to  sea  ;  when  a  sudden  tempest 
arising,  he  was  driven  with  his  companions  on  the  coast  of 
Ponthieu.  The  people  of  that  district,  as  was  their  native 
custom,  immediately  assembled  from  all  quarters  ;  and 
Harold's  company,  unarmed  and  few  in  number,  were,  as  it 
easily  might  be,  quickly  overpowered  by  an  armed  multitude, 
and  bound  hand  and  foot.  Harold,  craftily  meditating  a 
remedy  for  this  mischance,  sent  a  person,  whom  he  had 
allured  by  very  great  promises,  to  William,  to  say,  that  he 
had  been  sent  into  Normandy  by  the  king,  for  the  purpose 
of  expressly  confirming,  in  person,  the  message  which  had 
been  imperfectly  delivered  by  people  of  less  authority  ;  but 
that  he  was  detained  in  fetters  by  Guy  earl  of  Ponthieu,  and 
could  not  execute  his  embassy  :  that  it  was  the  barbarous 
and  inveterate  custom  of  the  country,  that  such  as  had  escaped 
destruction  at  sea,  should  meet  with  perils  on  shore  :  that  it 
well  became  a  man  of  his  dignity,  not  to  let  this  pass  un- 
punished :  that  to  suffer  those  to  be  laden  with  chains,  who 
appealed  to  his  protection,  detracted  somewhat  from  his  own 
greatness  :  and  that  if  his  captivity  must  be  terminated  by 
money,  he  would  gladly  give  it  to  earl  William,  but  not  to 
the  contemptible  Guy.  By  these  means,  Harold  was  liberated 
at  William's  command,  and  conducted  to  Normandy  by  Guy 
in  person.  The  earl  entertained  him  with  much  respect, 
both  in  banqueting  and  in  vesture,  according  to  the  custom 
of  his  country  ;  and  the  better  to  learn  his  disposition,  and 
at  the  same  time  to  try  his  courage,  took  him  with  him  in  an 
expedition  he  at  that  time  led  against  Brittany.  There, 
Harold,  well  proved  both  in  ability  and  courage,  won  the 
*  Near  Chichester. 

A.  D.  1CG6.1  HAKOLD.  255 

heart  of  the  Norman  ;  and,  still  more  to  ingratiate  himself, 
he  of  his  own  accord,  confirmed  to  him  by  oath  the  castle  of 
Dover,  which  was  under  his  jurisdiction,  and  the  kingdom 
of  England,  after  the  death  of  Edward.  Wherefore,  he  was 
honoured  both  by  having  his  daughter,  then  a  child,  be- 
trothed to  him,  and  by  the  confirmation  of  his  ample  patri- 
mony, and  was  received  into  the  strictest  intimacy.  Not 
long  after  his  return  home,  the  king  was  crowned*  at  Lon- 
don on  Christmas-day,  and  being  there  seized  with  the 
disorder  of  which  he  was  sensible  he  should  die,  he  com- 
manded the  church  of  Westminster  to  be  dedicated  on  Inno- 
cents-day.f  Thus,  full  of  years  and  of  glory,  he  surren- 
dered his  pure  spirit  to  heaven,  and  was  buried  on  the  day 
of  the  Epiphany,  in  the  said  church,  which  he,  first  in  Eng- 
land, had  erected  after  that  kind  of  style  wldch,  now,  almost 
all  attempt  to  rival  at  enormous  expense.  The  race  of  the 
West  Saxons,  which  had  reigned  in  Britain  five  hundred 
and  seventy-one  years,  from  the  time  of  Cerdic,  and  two 
hundred  and  sixty-one  from  Egbert,  in  him  ceased  altogether 
to  rule.  For  while  the  grief  for  the  king's  death  was  yet 
fresh,  Harold,  on  the  very  day  of  the  Epiphany,  seized  the 
diadem,  and  extorted  from  the  nobles  their  consent ;  though 
the  EngUsh  say,  that  it  was  granted  him  by  the  king  :  but  I 
conceive  it  alleged,  more  through  regard  to  Harold,  than 
through  sound  judgment,  that  Edward  should  transfer  Ms 
inheritance  to  a  man  of  whose  power  he  had  always  been 
jealous.  Still,  not  to  conceal  the  truth,  Harold  would  have 
governed  the  kingdom  with  prudence  and  with  courage,  in 
the  character  he  had  assumed,  had  he  undertaken  it  lawfully. 
Indeed,  during  Edward's  lifetime,  he  had  quelled,  by  Ins 
valour,  whatever  wars  were  excited  against  him  ;  wishing  to 
signalize  himself  with  his  countrymen,  and  looking  forward 

*  It  was  customary  for  the  king  to  wear  his  crown  on  the  solemn  festi- 
rals  of  Easter,  Whitsuntide,  and  Christmas  :  it  being  placed  on  his  head  in 
due  form  by  the  archbishop. 

+  "  Westminster  Abbey  was  consecrated  on  the  28th  of  December,  1065. 
Ailred  of  Rievaulx,  in  his  Life  of  Edward,  states  that  the  church  had  been 
commenced  some  years  before,  in  performance  of  a  vow  the  king  had  made 
to  go  to  Rome  ;  but  being  dissuaded  from  it,  he  sent  to  the  pope  to  obtain 
his  dispensation  from  that  journey  ;  the  pope  granted  it,  on  condition  that 
Edward  should,  with  the  money  he  would  have  spent  in  that  voyage,  build 
a  monastery  in  honour  of  St.  Peter." — Hardy. 

256  WILLIAM  OF  MALMESBURY.  [b.  ii.  c.  13. 

with  anxious  hope  to  the  crown.  He  first  vanquished 
Griffin  king  of  the  Welsh,  as  I  have  before  related,  in  battle ; 
and,  afterwards,  when  he  was  again  making  formidable 
efi*orts  to  recover  his  power,  deprived  him  of  his  head  ;  ap- 
pointing as  his  successors,  two  of  his  own  adherents,  that  is, 
the  brothers  of  this  Griffin,  Blegent  and  Rivallo,  who  had 
obtained  liis  favour  by  their  submission.  The  same  year 
Tosty  arrived  on  the  Humber,  from  Flanders,  with  a  fleet  of 
sixty  ships,  and  infested  with  piratical  depredations  those 
parts  which  were  adjacent  to  the  mouth  of  the  river  ;  but 
being  quickly  driven  from  the  province  by  the  joint  force  of 
the  brothers,  Edwin  and  Morcar,  he  set  sail  towards  Scot- 
land ;  where  meeting  with  Harold  Harfager  king  of  Nor- 
way, then  meditating  an  attack  on  England  with  three  hun- 
dred ships,  he  put  himself  under  his  command.  Both,  then, 
with  united  forces,  laid  waste  the  country  beyond  the  Hum- 
ber ;  and  falling  on  the  brothers,  reposing  after  their  recent 
victory  and  suspecting  no  attack  of  the  land,  they  first 
routed,  and  then  shut  them  up  in  York.  Harold,  on  hear- 
ing this,  proceeded  thither  with  all  his  forces,  and,  each 
nation  making  every  possible  exertion,  a  bloody  encounter 
followed  :  but  the  English  obtained  the  advantage,  and  put 
the  Norwegians  to  flight.  Yet,  however  reluctantly  posterity 
may  believe  it,  one  single  Norwegian  for  a  long  time  delayed 
the  triumph  of  so  many,  and  such  great  men.  For  standing 
on  the  entrance  of  the  bridge,  which  is  called  Standford 
Brigge,*  after  having  killed  several  of  our  party,  he  pre- 
vented the  whole  from  passing  over.  Being  invited  to  sur- 
render, with  the  assurance  that  a  man  of  such  courage 
should  experience  the  amplest  clemency  from  the  English,  he 
derided  those  who  entreated  him  ;  and  immediately,  with 
stern  countenance,  reproached  the  set  of  cowards  who  were 
unable  to  resist  an  individual.  No  one  approaching  nearer, 
as  they  thought  it  unadvisable  to  come  to  close  quarters  with 
a  man  who  had  desperately  rejected  every  means  of  safety, 
one  of  the  king's  followers  aimed  an  iron  javelin  at  him  from 
a  distance  ;  and  transfixed  him  as  he  was  boastfully  flourish- 
ing about,  and  too  incautious  from  his  security,  so  that  he 
yielded  the  victory  to  the  English.     The  army  immediately 

*  The  battle  of  Stanford-bridge  was  fought  on  the  25th  of  September, 
1066.     See  Saxon.  Chron.  p.  440. 

A.D.  1066.]  BATTLE    OF    HASTINGS.  257 

passing  over  without  opposition,  destroyed  the  dispersed  and 
flying  Norwegians.  King  Harfager  and  Tosty  were  slain  ; 
the  king's  son,  with  all  the  ships,  was  kindly  sent  back  to  his 
own  country.  Harold,  elated  by  his  successful  enterprise, 
vouchsafed  no  part  of  the  spoil  to  his  soldiers.  Wherefore 
many,  as  they  found  opportunity,  stealing  away,  deserted  the 
king,  as  he  was  proceeding  to  the  battle  of  Hastings.  For 
with  the  exception  of  his  stipendiary  and  mercenary  soldiers, 
he  had  very  few  of  the  people*  with  him  ;  on  which  account, 
circumvented  by  a  stratagem  of  William's,  he  was  routed, 
with  the  army  he  headed,  after  possessing  the  kingdom  nine 
months  and  some  days.  The  effect  of  war  in  this  affair  was 
trifling  ;  it.  was  brought  about  by  the  secret  and  wonderful 
counsel  of  God :  since  the  Angles  never  again,  in  any  general 
battle,  made  a  struggle  for  liberty,  as  if  the  whole  strength 
of  England  had  fallen  with  Harold,  who  certainly  might  and 
ought  to  pay  the  penalty  of  his  perfidy,  even  though  it  were 
at  the  hands  of  the  most  unwarlike  people.  Nor  in  saying 
this,  do  I  at  all  derogate  from  the  valour  of  the  Normans,  to 
whom  I  am  strongly  bound,  both  by  my  descent,  and  for  the 
privileges  I  enjoy.  Stillf  those  persons  appear  to  me  to  err, 
who  augment  the  numbers  of  the  EngHsh,  and  underrate 
their  courage  ;  who,  while  they  design  to  extol  the  Normans, 
load  them  with  ignominy.  A  mighty  commendation  indeed  ! 
that  a  very  warlike  nation  should  conquer  a  set  of  people 
who  were  obstructed  by  their  multitude,  and  fearful  through 
cowardice  !  On  the  contrary,  they  were  few  in  number  and 
brave  in  the  extreme  ;  and  sacrificing  every  regard  to  their 
bodies,  poured  forth  their  spirit  for  their  country.  But, 
however,  as  these  matters  await  a  more  detailed  narrrative, 
I  shall  now  put  a  period  to  my  second  book,  that  I  may  re- 
turn to  my  composition,  and  my  readers  to  the  perusal  of  it, 
with  fresh  ardour. 

*  What  Malmesbury  here  relates  is  highly  probable,  from  the  shortness 
of  the  time  which  elapsed  from  William's  landing,  to  the  battle  of  Hast- 
ings,— only  fifteen  days.  In  this  period,  therefore,  the  intelligence  was  to 
be  conveyed  to  York,  and  Harold's  march  into  Sussex  to  be  completed  ; 
of  course  few  could  accompany  him,  but  such  as  were  mounted. 

t  Will.  Picta^densis,  to  whom  he  seems  here  to  allude,  asserts  that  Harold 
had  collected  immense  forces  from  all  parts  of  England  ;  and  that  Den- 
mark had  supplied  him  with  auxiliaries  also.  But  the  circumstances  men- 
tioned in  the  preceding  note  show  the  absurdity  of  this  statement. 


258  WILLIAM   OF   MALMESBURY.  [a  in. 



Normans  and  English,  incited  by  different  motives,  have 
written  of  king  William :  the  former  have  praised  him  to 
excess ;  extolling  to  the  utmost  both  his  good  and  his 
bad  actions:  while  the  latter,  out  of  national  hatred,  have 
laden  their  conqueror  with  undeserved  reproach.  For  my 
part,  as  the  blood  of  either  people  flows  in  my  veins,  I  shall 
steer  a  middle  course:  where  I  am  certified  of  his  good 
deeds,  I  shall  openly  proclaim  them  ;  his  bad  conduct  I 
shall  touch  upon  lightly  and  sparingly,  though  not  so  as  to 
conceal  it ;  so  that  neither  shall  my  narrative  be  condemned 
as  false,  nor  will  I  brand  that  man  with  ignominious  cen- 
sure, almost  the  whole  of  whose  actions  may  reasonably  be 
excused,  if  not  commended.  Wherefore  I  shall  willingly 
and  carefully  relate  such  anecdotes  of  him,  as  may  be  mat- 
ter of  incitement  to  the  indolent,  or  of  example  to  the  enter- 
prising ;  useful  to  the  present  age,  and  pleasing  to  posterity. 
But  I  shall  spend  little  time  in  relating  such  things  as  are  of 
service  to  no  one,  and  which  produce  disgust  in  the  reader, 
as  well  as  ill-will  to  the  author.  There  are  always  people, 
more  than  sufficient,  ready  to  detract  from  the  actions  of  the 
noble :  my  course  of  proceeding  will  be,  to  extenuate  evil,  as 
much  as  can  be  consistently  with  truth,  and  not  to  bestow 
excessive  commendation  even  on  good  actions.  For  this 
moderation,  as  I  imagine,  all  true  judges  will  esteem  me 
"^either  timid,  nor  unskilful.  And  this  rule  too,  my  history 
will  regard  equally,  with  respect  both  to  William  and  his 
two  sons ;  that  nothing  shall  be  dwelt  on  too  fondly ;  nothing 
untrue  shall  be  admitted.  The  elder  of  these  did  little  wor- 
thy of  praise,  if  we  except  the  early  part  of  his  reign ;  gain- 
ing, throughout  the  whole  of  his  life,  the  favour  of  the 
military  at  the  expense  of  the  people.  The  second,  more 
obsequious  to  his  father  than  to  his  brother,  possessed  his 
spirit,  unsubdued  either  by  prosperity  or  adversity  :  on  re- 
garding his  warlike  expeditions,  it  is  matter  of  doubt, 
whether  he  was  more  cautious  or  more  bold;  on  contem- 
plating their  event,  whether  he  was  more  fortunate,  or  un- 

Aa).1066.]  WILLIAM   THE    FIRST.  259 

successful.  There  will  be  a  time,  however,  when  the  reader 
may  judge  for  himself.  I  am  now  about  to  begin  mj  third 
volume ;  and  I  think  I  have  said  enough  to  make  him  atten- 
tive, and  disposed  to  receive  instruction:  his  own  feelings 
will  persuade  him  to  be  candid. 

Of  William  the  First.     [ a .d.  1 066— 1 087.] 

Robert,  second  son  of  Richard  the  Second,  after  he  had, 
with  great  glory,  held  the  duchy  of  Normandy  for  seven 
years,  resolved  on  a  pilgrimage  to  Jerusalem.  He  had,  at 
that  time,  a  son  seven  years  of  age,  born  of  a  concubine, 
whose  beauty  he  had  accidentally  beheld,  as  she  was  dan- 
cing, and  had  become  so  smitten  with  it,  as  to  form  a  con- 
nexion with  her :  after  which,  he  loved  her  exclusively,  and, 
for  some  time,  regarded  her  as  his  wife.  He  had  by  her 
this  boy,  named,  after  his  great-great-grandfather,  William, 
whose  future  glory  was  portended  to  his  mother  by  a  dream ; 
wherein  she  imagined  her  intestines  were  stretched  out,  and 
extended  over  the  whole  of  Normandy  and  England:  and, 
at  the  very  moment,  also,  when  the  infant  burst  into  life  and 
touched  the  ground,  he  filled  both  hands  with  the  rushes 
strewed  upon  the  floor,  firmly  grasping  what  he  had  taken 
up.  This  prodigy  was  joyfully  witnessed  by  the  women, 
gossipping  on  the  occasion ;  and  the  midwife  hailed  the  pro- 
pitious omen,  declaring  that  the  boy  would  be  a  king. 

Every  provision  being  made  for  the  expedition  to  Jeru- 
salem,* the  chiefs  were  summoned  to  a  council  at  Feschamp, 
where,  at  his  father's  command,  all  swore  fidelity  to  Wil- 
liam :  earl  Gilbert  was  appointed  his  guardian  ;  and  the 
protection  of  the  earl  was  assigned  to  Henry,  king  of 
France.  While  Robert  was  prosecuting  his  journey,  the 
Normans,  each  in  his  several  station,  united  in  common  for 
the  defence  of  their  country,  and  regarded  their  infant  lord 
with  great  affection.  This  fidelity  continued  till  the  report 
was  spread  of  Robert's  death,  upon  which  their  affection 
changed  with  his  fortune ;  and  then  they  began  severally  to 
fortify  their  towns,  to  build  castles,  to  carry  in  provisions, 

*  "  Robert's  expedition  to  Jerusalem  was  in  1035,"  (Bouq.  14,  420.) 

s  2 

260  W1LL1A3I   OF    MALMESBURY.  [b.  m. 

and  to  seek  the  earliest  opportunities  of  revolting  from  the 
child.  In  the  meantime,  however,  doubtlessly  by  the  special 
aid  of  God  who  had  destined  him  to  the  sovereignty  of  such 
an  extended  empire,  he  grew  up  uninjured;  while  Gilbert, 
almost  alone,  defended  by  arms  what  was  just  and  right : 
the  rest  being  occupied  by  the  designs  of  their  respective 
parties.  But  Gilbert  being  at  this  time  killed  by  his  cousin 
Rodulph,  fire  and  slaughter  raged  on  all  sides.  The  coun- 
try, formerly  most  flourishing,  was  now  torn  with  intestine 
broils,  and  divided  at  the  pleasure  of  the  plunderers ;  so  that 
it  was  justly  entitled  to  proclaim,  "Woe  to  the  land  whose 
sovereign  is  a  child."* 

William,  however,  as  soon  as  his  age  permitted,  receiving 
the  badge  of  knighthood  from  the  king  of  France,  inspirited 
the  inhabitants  to  hope  for  quiet.  The  sower  of  dissension 
was  one  Guy,  a  Burgundian  on  his  father's  side,  and  grand- 
son to  Richard  the  Second  by  his  daughter.  William  and 
Guy  had  been  children  together,  and  at  that  time  were 
equally  approaching  to  manhood.  Mutual  intercourse  had 
produced  an  intimacy  between  them  which  had  ripened 
into  friendship.  Moreover,  thinking,  as  they  were  related, 
that  he  ought  to  deny  him  nothing,  he  had  given  him  the 
castles  of  Briony  and  Vernon.  The  Burgundian,  unmindful 
of  this,  estranged  himself  from  the  earl,  feigning  sufficient 
cause  of  offence  to  colour  his  conduct.  It  would  be  tedious, 
and  useless,  to  relate  what  actions  were  performed  on  either 
side,  what  castles  were  taken ;  for  his  perfidy  had  found 
abettors  in  Nigel,  viscount  of  Coutances,  Ralph,  viscount 
of  Bayeux,  and  Haimo  Dentatus,  grandfather  of  Robert, 
who  was  the  occupier  of  many  estates  in  England  in  our 
time.  With  these  persons,  this  most  daring  plunderer,  al- 
lured by  vain  expectation  of  succeeding  to  the  earldom, 
was  devastating  the  whole  of  Normandy.  A  sense  of  duty, 
however,  compelled  the  guardian-king  to  succour  the  des- 
perate circumstances  of  his  ward.  Remembering,  therefore, 
the  kindness  of  his  father,  and  that  he  had,  by  his  influence, 
exalted  him  to  the  kingdom,  he  rushed  on  the  revolters  at 
Walesdun.  Many  thousands  of  them  were  there  slain  ; 
many  drowned  in  the  river  Orne,  by  its  rapidity,  while, 
being  hard-pressed,  they  spurred  their  horses  to  ford  the 
♦  Ecclesiast.  x.  16. 

A.D.  10.17.]         GEOFFREY,  EAKL  OF  ANJOU.  261 

current.  Guy,  escaping  with  difficulty,  betook  himself  to 
Briony;  but  was  driven  thence  by  William,  and  unable  to 
endure  this  disgrace,  he  retired,  of  liis  own  accord,  to  Bur- 
gundy, his  native  soil.  Here  too  his  unquiet  spirit  found  no 
rest;  for  being  expelled  thence  by  his  brother,  William,  earl 
of  that  province,  against  whom  he  had  conceived  designs,  it 
appears  not  what  fate  befell  him.  Nigel  and  Ralph  were 
admitted  to  fealty:  Haimo  fell  in  the  field  of  battle;  after 
having  become  celebrated  by  liis  remarkable  daring  for 
having  unhorsed  the  king  himself ;  in  consequence  of  which 
he  was  despatched  by  the  surrounding  guards,  and,  in  ad- 
miration of  his  valour,  honourably  buried  at  the  king's  com- 
mand. King  Henry  received  a  compensation  for  this  favour, 
when  the  Norman  lord  actively  assisted  him  against  Geof- 
frey Martel  at  Herle-Mill,  which  is  a  fortress  in  the  country 
of  Anjou.  For  William  had  now  attained  his  manly  vigour ; 
an  object  of  dread  even  to  his  elders,  and  though  alone,  a 
match  for  numbers.  Unattended  he  would  rush  on  danger ; 
and  when  unaccompanied,  or  with  only  a  few  followers,  dart 
into  the  thickest  ranks  of  the  enemy.  By  this  expedition 
he  gained  the  reputation  of  admirable  bravery,  as  well  as 
the  sincerest  regard  of  the  king  ;  so  that,  with  parental 
affection,  he  would  often  admonish  him  not  to  hold  life  in 
contempt  by  encountering  danger  so  precipitately;  a  life, 
which  was  the  ornament  of  the  French,  the  safeguard  of 
the  Normans,  and  an  example  to  both. 

At  that  time  Geoffrey*  was  earl  of  Anjou,  who  had  boast- 
ingly  taken  the  surname  of  Martel,  as  he  seemed,  by  a 
certain  kind  of  good  fortune,  to  beat  down  all  his  opponents. 
Finally,  he  had  made  captive,  in  open  battle,  his  liege  lord, 
the  earl  of  Poitou ;  and,  loading  him  with  chains,  had  com- 
pelled him  to  dishonourable  terms  of  peace ;  namely,  that  he 
should  yield  up  Bourdeaux  and  the  neighbouring  cities,  and 
pay  an  annual  tribute  for  the  rest.  But  he,  as  it  is  thought, 
through  the  injuries  of  his  confinement  and  want  of  food, 
was,  after  three  days,  released  from  eternal  ignominy  by  a 
timely  death.  Martel  then,  that  his  effrontery  might  be 
complete,  married  the  stepmother  of  the  deceased ;  taking 
his  brothers  under  his  protection  until  they  should  be  capa- 

*  Geoffrey  II.,  son  of  Foolques  III.,  earl  of  Anjou,  whom  he  suc- 
ceeded, A.D.  1040. 

262  "WILLIAM   OP    MALMESBURY.  (b.  hi. 

ble  of  governing  the  principality.  Next  entering  the  terri- 
tories of  Theobald,  earl  of  Blois,  he  laid  siege  to  the  city  of 
Tours;  and  while  he  was  hastening  to  the  succour  of  his 
subjects,  made  him  participate  in  their  afflictions ;  for  being 
taken,  and  shut  up  in  prison,  he  ceded  the  city  from  himself 
and  his  heirs  for  ever.  Who  shall  dare  cry  shame  on  this 
man's  cowardice,  who,  for  the  enjoyment  of  a  little  longer 
life,  defrauded  his  successors  for  ever  of  the  dominion  of 
so  great  a  city?  for  although  we  are  too  apt  to  be  severe 
judges  of  others,  yet  we  must  know,  that  we  should  consult 
our  own  safety,  if  we  were  ever  to  be  placed  in  similar  cir- 
cumstances. In  this  manner  Martel,  insolent  from  the  ac- 
cession of  so  much  power,  obtained  possession  of  the  castle 
of  Alenijon,  even  from  the  earl  of  Normandy ;  its  inhabitants 
being  faithlessly  disposed.  Irritated  at  this  outrage,  William 
retaliated,  and  invested  Danfrunt,  which  at  that  time  be- 
longed to  the  earl  of  Anjou.  Geoffrey,  immediately,  excited 
by  the  complaints  of  the  besieged,  hastily  rushed  forward 
with  a  countless  force.  Hearing  of  his  approach,  William 
sends  Roger  Montgomery*  and  WiUiam  Fitz-Osberne  to 
reconnoitre.  They,  from  the  activity  of  youth,  proceeding 
many  miles  in  a  short  time,  espied  Martel  on  horseback,  and 
apprized  him  of  the  dauntless  boldness  of  their  lord.  Martel 
immediately  began  to  rage,  to  threaten  mightily  what  he 
would  do ;  and  said  that  he  would  come  thither  the  next 
day,  and  show  to  the  world  at  large  how  much  an  Angevin 
could  excel  a  Norman  in  battle :  at  the  same  time,  with  un- 
paralleled insolence,  describing  the  colour  of  his  horse,  and 
the  devices  on  the  arms  he  meant  to  use.  The  Norman 
nobles,  with  equal  vanity,  relating  the  same  of  William, 
return  and  stimulate  their  party  to  the  conflict.  I  have 
described  these  things  minutely,  for  the  purpose  of  display- 
ing the  arrogance  of  Martel.  On  this  occasion,  however,  he 
manifested  none  of  his  usual  magnanimity,  for  he  retreated 
without  coming  to  battle ;  on  hearing  which,  the  inhabitants 

*  "  He  was  the  son  of  Hugh  de  Montgomery  and  Jemima  his  wife, 
daughter  of  Turolf  of  Pont- Andomare,  by  Wora,  sister  of  Gunnora,  great- 
grandmother  to  the  Conqueror.  He  led  the  centre  of  the  ai-my  ^t  the  bat- 
tle of  Hastings,  and  was  afterwards  governor  of  Normandy,  William  the 
Conqueror  gave  him  the  earldoms  of  Arundel  and  Shrewsbury,  See  more 
of  him  in  Sir  H.  Ellis's  Introduction  to  Domesday,  vol.  i.  p.  479." — 

A.D.  1047.J  WILLIAM   OF   ARCHES.  263 

of  Alen9on  surrendered,  covenanting  for  personal  safety; 
and,  afterwards,  those  of  Danfrunt  also,  listed  under  the 
more  fortunate  standard. 

In  succeeding  years  William,  earl  of  Arches,  his  illegiti- 
mate uncle,  who  had  always  been  faithless  and  fluctuating 
from  his  first  entrance  on  the  duchy,  rebelled  against  him ; 
for,  even  during  the  siege  of  Danfrunt,  he  had  unexpectedly 
stolen  away,  and  had  communicated  to  many  persons  the 
secrets  of  his  soul.  In  consequence  of  this,  William  had 
committed  the  keeping  of  his  castle  to  some  men,  whom  he 
had  erroneously  deemed  faithful;  but  the  earl,  with  his 
usual  skill  in  deception,  had  seduced  even  these  people  to  his 
party,  by  giving  them  many  things,  and  promising  them 
more.  Thus  possessed  of  the  fortress,  he  declared  war 
against  his  lord.  William,  with  his  customary  alacrity,  con- 
trary to  the  advice  of  his  friends,  laid  siege  to  Arches, 
declaring  publicly,  that  the  miscreants  would  not  dare  at- 
tempt any  thing,  if  they  came  into  his  sight.  Nor  was  his 
assertion  false:  for  more  than  three  hundred  soldiers,  who 
had  gone  out  to  plunder  and  forage,  the  instant  they  beheld 
him,  though  almost  unattended,  fled  back  into  their  fortifi- 
cations. Being  inclined  to  settle  this  business  without  blood- 
shed, he  fortified  a  castle  in  front  of  Arches,  and  turned  to 
matters  of  hostile  operation  which  required  deeper  attention, 
because  he  was  aware  that  the  king  of  France,  who  had 
already  become  adverse  to  him  from  some  unknown  cause, 
was  hastening  to  the  succour  of  the  besieged.  He  here  gave 
an  instance  of  very  laudable  forbearance ;  for  though  he  cer- 
tainly appeared  to  liave  the  juster  cause,  yet  he  was  reluctant 
to  engage  with  that  person,  to  whom  he  was  bound  both  by 
oath  and  by  obligation.  He  left  some  of  his  nobility,  how- 
ever, to  repress  the  impetuosity  of  the  king;  who,  falling 
into  an  ambush  laid  by  their  contrivance,  had  most  de- 
servedly to  lament  Isembard,  earl  of  Ponthieu,  who  was 
killed  in  his  sight,  and  Hugh  Bardulf,  who  was  taken 
prisoner.  Not  long  after,  in  consequence  of  his  miscarriage, 
retiring  to  his  beloved  France,  the  earl  of  Arches,  wasted 
with  hunger,  and  worn  to  a  skeleton,  consented  to  surrender, 
and  was  preserved,  life  and  limb,  an  example  of  clemency, 
and  a  proof  of  perseverance.  During  the  interval  of  tliis 
siege,  the  people  of  the  fortress  called  Moulin,  becoming  dis- 

264  WILLIAM   OF    MALMESBURY.  [b.  m. 

affected,  at  the  instigation  of  one  Walter,  went  over  to  the 
king's  side.  An  active  party  of  soldiers  was  placed  there, 
under  the  command  of  Guy,  brother  of  the  earl  of  Poitou, 
who  diligently  attended  for  some  time  to  his  miHtary  duties : 
but  on  hearing  the  report  of  the  victory  at  Arches,  he  stole 
away  into  France,  and  contributed,  by  these  means,  consider- 
ably to  the  glory  of  the  duke. 

King  Henry,  however,  did  not  give  indulgence  to  inac- 
tivity ;  but,  muttering  that  his  armies  had  been  a  laughing- 
stock to  William,  immediately  collected  all  his  forces,  and, 
dividing  them  into  two  bodies,  he  over-ran  the  whole  of 
Normandy.  He  himself  headed  all  the  military  power  which 
came  from  that  part  of  Celtic  Gaul  which  lies  between  the 
rivers  Garonne  and  Seine ;  and  gave  his  brother  Odo  the 
command  over  such  as  came  from  that  part  of  Belgic  Gaul 
which  is  situated  between  the  Rhine  and  the  Seine.  In  like 
manner  William  divided  his  army,  with  all  the  skill  he  pos- 
sessed ;  approaching  by  degrees  the  camp  of  the  king,  which 
was  pitched  in  the  country  of  Briony,  in  such  a  manner,  as 
neither  to  come  to  close  engagement,  nor  yet  suffer  the  pro- 
vince to  be  devastated  in  his  presence.  His  generals  were 
Robert,  earl  of  Aux ;  Hugo  de  Gournay,  Hugo  de  Montfort, 
and  William  Crispin,  who  opposed  Odo  at  a  town  called 
Mortemar.  Nor  did  he,  relying  on  the  numerous  army 
which  lie  commanded,  at  all  delay  coming  to  action ;  yet 
making  only  slight  resistance  at  the  beginning,  and  after- 
wards being  unable  to  withstand  the  attack  of  the  Normans, 
he  retreated,  and  was  himself  the  first  to  fly.  And  here, 
while  Guy,  earl  of  Ponthieu,  was  anxiously  endeavouring  to 
revenge  his  brother,  he  was  made  captive,  and  felt,  together 
with  many  others  surpassing  in  affluence  and  rank,  the 
weight  of  that  hand  which  was  so  fatal  to  his  family.  When 
William  was  informed  of  this  success  by  messengers,  he  took 
care  that  it  should  be  proclaimed  in  the  dead  of  night,  near 
the  king's  tent.  On  hearing  which  he  retired,  after  some 
days  spent  in  Normandy,  into  France ;  and,  soon  after,  am- 
bassadors passing  between  them,  it  was  concluded,  by  treaty, 
that  the  king's  partizans  should  be  set  at  liberty,  and  that 
the  earl  should  become  legally  possessed  of  all  that  had  been, 
or  should  hereafter  be,  taken  from  Martel. 

It  would  be  both  tedious  and  useless,  to  relate  their  per- 

A.D.  1058.]  FULK,    EARL    OF    ANJOTJ.  265 

petual  contentions,  or  how  William  always  came  off  con- 
queror. What  shall  we  say  besides,  when,  magnanimously 
despising  the  custom  of  modern  times,  he  never  conde- 
scended to  attack  him  suddenly,  or  without  acquainting  him 
of  the  day.  Moreover,  I  pass  by  the  circumstance  of  king 
Henry's  again  violating  his  friendship;  his  entering  Nor- 
mandy, and  proceeding  through  the  district  of  Hiesmes  to 
the  river  Dive,  boasting  that  the  sea  was  the  sole  obstacle 
to  his  farther  progress.  But  William  now  perceiving  him- 
self reduced  to  extremities  by  the  king's  perfidy,  at  length 
brandished  the  arms  of  conscious  valour,  and  worsted  the 
royal  forces  which  were  beyond  the  river — for  part  of  them, 
hearing  of  his  arrival,  had  passed  over  some  little  time  be- 
fore— with  such  entire  loss,  that  henceforth  France  had  no 
such  object  of  dread  as  that  of  irritating  the  ferocity  of  the 
Normans.  The  death  of  Henry  soon  following,  and,  shortly 
after,  that  of  Martel,  put  an  end  to  these  broils.  The  dying 
king  delegated  the  care  of  his  son  Philip,  at  that  time  ex- 
tremely young,  to  Baldwin  earl  of  Flanders.  He  was  a 
man  equally  celebrated  for  fidelity  and  wisdom;  in  the  full 
possession  of  bodily  strength,  and  also  ennobled  by  a  mar- 
riage with  the  king's  sister.  His  daughter,  Matilda,  a  wo- 
man who  was  a  singular  mirror  of  prudence  in  our  time, 
and  the  perfection  of  virtue,  had  been  already  married  to 
William.  Hence  it  arose,  that  being  mediator  between  his 
ward,  and  his  son-in-law,  Baldwin  restrained,  by  his  whole- 
some counsels,  the  feuds  of  the  chiefs,  and  of  the  people. 

But  since  the  mention  of  Martel  has  so  often  presented 
itself,  I  shall  briefly  trace  the  genealogy  of  the  earls  of 
Anjou,*  as  far  as  the  knowledge  of  my  informant  reaches. 
Fulk  the  elder,  presiding  over  that  county  for  many  years, 
until  he  became  advanced  in  years,  performed  many  great 
and  prudent  actions.  There  is  only  one  thing  for  which  I 
have  heard  him  branded:  for,  having  induced  Herbert  earl 
of  Maine  to  come  to  Saintes,  under  the  promise  of  yielding 
him  that  city,  he  caused  him,  in  the  midst  of  their  conversa- 
tion, to  be  surrounded  by  his  attendants,  and  compelled  him 
to  submit  to  his  own  conditions :  in  other  respects  he  was 

*  ''  For  an  account  of  the  earls  of  Anjou  consult  the  Gesta  Consulum 
Andegavensium,  auctore  Monacho  Benedictino  Majoris  Mouasterii  (apud 
Acheriuni,  torn,  iii.)  " — Hardy. 

266  WILLIAM   OF    MALMESBURY.  [a  irt. 

a  man  of  irreproacliable  integrity.  In  his  latter  days,  he 
ceded  his  principality  to  Geoffrey  his  son  so  often  mentioned. 
Geoffrey  conducted  himself  with  excessive  barbarity  to  the 
inhabitants,  and  with  equal  haughtiness  even  to  the  person 
who  had  conferred  this  honour  upon  him :  on  which,  being 
ordered  by  his  father  to  lay  down  the  government  and  en- 
signs of  authority,  he  was  arrogant  enough  to  take  up  arms 
against  him.  The  blood  of  the  old  man,  though  grown  cold 
and  languid,  yet  boiled  with  indignation ;  and  in  the  course 
of  a  few  days,  by  adopting  wiser  counsels,  he  so  brought 
down  the  proud  spirit  of  his  son,  that  after  carrying  his 
saddle*  on  his  back  for  some  miles,  he  cast  himself  with 
his  burden  at  his  father's  feet.  He,  fired  once  more  with 
his  ancient  courage,  rising  up  and  spurning  the  prostrate 
youth  with  his  foot,  exclaimed,  "  You  are  conquered  at  last ! 
you  are  conquered  !"  repeating  his  words  several  times. 
The  suppliant  had  still  spirit  enough  to  make  this  admirable 
reply,  "I  am  conquered  by  you  alone,  because  you  are  my 
father ;  by  others  I  am  utterly  invincible."  With  this 
speech  his  irritated  mind  was  mollified,  and  having  con- 
soled the  mortification  of  his  son  by  paternal  affection,  he 
restored  him  to  the  principality,  with  admonitions  to  conduct 
himself  more  wisely  :  telling  him  that  the  prosperity  and 
tranquillity  of  the  people  were  creditable  to  him  abroad,  as 
well  as  advantageous  at  home.  In  the  same  year  the  old 
man,  having  discharged  all  secular  concerns,  made  pro- 
vision-'for  his  soul,  by  proceeding  to  Jerusalem ;  where  com- 
pelling two  servants  by  an  oath  to  do  whatever  he  com- 
manded, he  was  by  them  publicly  dragged  naked,  in  the 
sight  of  the  Turks,  to  the  holy  sepulchre.  One  of  them 
had  twisted  a  withe  about  his  neck,  the  other  with  a  rod 
scourged  his  bare  back,  whilst  he  cried  out,  "Lord,  receive 
the  wretched  Fulk,  thy  perfidious,  thy  runagate ;  regard  my 
repentant  soul,  O  Lord  Jesu  Christ."  At  this  time  he  ob- 
tained not  his  request;  but,  peacefully  returning  home,  he 
died  some  few  years  after.     The  precipitate  boldness  of  his 

*  To  carry  a  saddle  was  a  punishment  of  extreme  ignominy  for  certain 
crimes.  See  another  instance  in  W.  Gemeticensis,  Du  Chesne,  p.  259, 
and  Du  Cange,  in  voce  "  Sella  ;"  who  very  justly  supposes  the  disgrace 
to  arise  from  the  offender  acknowledging  himself  a  brute,  and  putting  him- 
eelf  entirely  in  the  power  of  the  person  he  had  offended. 

AD.  105SJ  GEOFFREY   MARTEL.  267 

son  Geoffrey  has  been  amply  displayed  in  my  preceding  Ms- 
tory.  He  dying,  bequeathed  to  Geoffrey,  his  sister's  son,  his 
inheritance,  but  his  worldly  industry  he  could  not  leave  him. 
For  being  a  youth  of  simple  manners,  and  more  accustomed 
to  pray  in  church,  than  to  handle  arms,  he  excited  the  con- 
tempt of  the  people  of  that  country,  who  knew  not  how  to 
live  in  quiet.  In  consequence,  the  whole  district  becoming 
exposed  to  plunderers,  Fulk,  his  brother,  of  his  own  ac- 
cord, seized  on  the  duchy.  Fulk  was  called  Rhechin,  from 
his  perpetual  growling  at  the  simplicity  of  his  brother,  whom 
he  finally  despoiled  of  his  dignity,  and  kept  in  continual  cus- 
tody. He  had  a  wife,  who,  being  enticed  by  the  desire  of 
enjoying  a  higher  title,  deserted  him  and  married  Philip  king 
of  France ;  who  so  desperately  loved  her,  regardless  of  the 

"  Majesty  and  love 
But  ill  accord,  nor  share  the  self-same  seat," 

that  he  patiently  suffered  himself  to  be  completely  governed 
by  her,  though  he  was  at  the  same  time  desirous  of  ruling 
over  every  other  person.  Lastly,  for  several  years,  merely 
through  regard  for  her,  he  suffered  himself  to  be  pointed  at 
like  an  idiot,  and  to  be  excommunicated  from  the  whole 
Christian  world.  The  sons  of  Fulk  were  Geoffrey  and 
Fulk.  Geoffrey  obtaining  the  hereditary  surname  of  Mar- 
tel,  ennobled  it  by  his  exertions :  for  he  procured  such  peace 
and  tranquillity  in  those  parts,  as  no  one  ever  had  seen,  or 
will  see  in  future.  On  this  account  being  killed  by  the 
treachery  of  his  people,  he  forfeited  the  credit  of  his  con- 
summate worth.  Fulk  succeeding  to  the  government,  is  yet 
living  ;*  of  whom  as  I  shall  perhaps  have  occasion  to  speak 
in  the  times  of  king  Henry,  I  will  now  proceed  to  relate 
what  remains  concerning  William. 

When,  after  much  labour,  he  had  quelled  all  civil  dissen- 
sion, he  meditated  an  exploit  of  greater  fame,  and  deter- 
mined to  recover  those  countries  anciently  attached  to  Nor- 
mandy, though  now  disunited  by  long  custom.     I  allude  to 

*  From  this  passage  it  is  clear  that  Foulques  IV.  was  still  the  reignin; 
earl  of  Anjou,  which  therefore  proves  that  Malmesbury  had  finished  tliis 
work  before  1129,  in  which  year  Geoffrey  le  Bel,  better  known  as  GcoIElVJ 
Plantagenet,  son  of  Foulques,  became  eari  of  Anjou." — Hardy. 

268  WILLIAM    OF    MALMESBURT.  [b.  in. 

the  counties  of  Maine  and  Brittany;  of  which  Mans,  long 
since  burnt  by  Martel  and  deprived  of  its  sovereign  Hugo, 
had  lately  experienced  some  little  respite  under  Herbert  the 
son  of  Hugo ;  who,  with  a  view  to  greater  security  against 
the  earl  of  Anjou,  had  submitted,  and  sworn  fidelity  to  Wil- 
liam :  besides,  he  had  solicited  his  daughter  in  marriage, 
and  had  been  betrothed  to  her,  though  he  died  by  disease 
ere  she  Avas  marriageable.  He  left  William  his  heir,  ad- 
juring his  subjects  to  admit  no  other;  telling  them,  they 
might  have,  if  they  chose,  a  mild  and  honourable  lord  ; 
but,  should  they  not,  a  most  determined  assertor  of  his 
right.  On  his  decease,  the  inhabitants  of  Maine  rather  in- 
clined to  Walter  of  Mantes,  who  had  married  Hugo's  sister : 
but  at  length,  being  brought  to  their  senses  by  many  heavy 
losses,  they  acknowledged  William.  This  was  the  time, 
when  Harold  was  unwillingly  carried  to  Normandy  by  an 
unpropitious  gale  ;  whom,  as  is  before  mentioned,  William 
took  with  him  in  his  expedition  to  Brittany,  to  make  proof 
of  his  prowess,  and,  at  the  same  time,  with  the  deeper  de- 
sign of  showing  to  him  his  military  equipment,  that  he 
might  perceive  how  far  preferable  was  the  Norman  sword 
to  the  English  battle-axe.  Alan,  at  that  time,  earl  of  Brit- 
tany, flourishing  in  youth,  and  of  transcendent  strength,  had 
overcome  his  uncle  Eudo,  and  performed  many  famous  ac- 
tions ;  and  so  far  from  fearing  William,  had  even  voluntarily 
irritated  him.  But  he,  laying  claim  to  Brittany  as  his 
hereditary  territory,  because  Charles  had  given  it  with  his 
daughter,  Gisla,  to  Rollo,  shortly  acted  in  such  wise,  that 
Alan  came  suppliantly  to  him,  and  surrendered  himself  and 
his  possessions.  And  since  I  shall  have  but  little  to  say  of 
Brittany  hereafter,  I  will  here  briefly  insert  an  extraordinary 
occurrence,  which  happened  about  that  time  in  the  city  of 

There  were  in  that  city  two  clerks,  who  though  not  yet  of 
legal  age,  had  obtained  the  priesthood  from  the  bishop  of 
that  place,  more  by  entreaty  than  desert  :  the  pitiable  death 
of  one  of  whom,  at  length  taught  the  survivor,  how  near 
they  had  before  been  to  the  brink  of  hell.  As  to  the  know- 
ledge of  literature,  they  were  so  instructed,  that  they  wanted 
little  of  perfection.  From  their  earliest  infancy,  they  had  in 
such  wise  vied  in  offices  of  friendship,  that  according  to  the 

A.D.  1065]  STORY   OF    TWO   CLERKS.  269 

expression  of  the  comic  writer,*  "  To  serve  each  other  thej 
would  not  only  stir  hand  and  foot,  but  even  risk  the  loss  of 
life  itself"  Wherefore,  one  day,  when  they  found  their 
minds  more  than  usually  free  from  outward  cares,  they  spoke 
their  sentiments,  in  a  secret  place,  to  the  following  effect : 
"  That  for  many  years  they  had  given  their  attention  some- 
times to  literature,  and  sometimes  to  secular  cares  ;  nor  had 
they  satisfied  their  minds,  which  had  been  occupied  rather  in 
wrong  than  proper  pursuits  ;  that  in  the  meanwhile,  the 
bitter  day  was  insensibly  approaching,  which  would  burst 
the  bond  of  union  which  was  indissoluble  while  life  remained : 
wherefore  they  should  provide  in  time,  that  the  friendship 
which  united  them  while  living  should  accompany  him  who 
died  first  to  the  place  of  the  dead."  They  agreed,  therefore, 
that  whichever  should  first  depart,  should  certainly  appear  to 
the  survivor,  either  waking  or  sleeping,  if  possible  within 
thirty  days,  to  inform  him,  that,  according  to  the  Platonic  tenet, 
death  does  not  extinguish  the  spirit,  but  sends  it  back  again, 
as  it  were  from  prison,  to  God  its  author.  If  this  did  not 
take  place,  then  they  must  yield  to  the  sect  of  the  Epicureans, 
who  hold,  that  the  soul,  liberated  from  the  body,  vanishes 
into  air,  or  mingles  with  the  wind.  Mutually  plighting  their 
faith,  they  repeated  this  oath  in  their  daily  conversation. 
A  short  time  elapsed,  and  behold  a  violent  death  suddenly 
deprived  one  of  them  of  life.  The  other  remained,  and 
seriously  revolving  the  promise  of  his  friend,  and  constantly 
expecting  his  presence,  during  thirty  days,  found  his  hopes 
disappointed.  At  the  expiration  of  this  time,  when,  despair- 
ing of  seeing  him,  he  had  occupied  his  leisure  in  other  busi- 
ness, the  deceased,  with  that  pale  countenance  which  dying 
persons  assume,  suddenly  stood  before  him,  when  awake,  and 
busied  on  some  matter.  The  dead  first  addressing  the  living 
man,  who  was  silent:  "Do  you  know  me  ?"  said  he;  "I 
do,"  replied  the  other  ;  "  nor  am  I  so  much  disturbed  at 
your  unusual  presence,  as  I  wonder  at  your  prolonged  ab- 
sence." But  when  he  had  accounted  for  the  tardiness  of  his 
appearance  ;  "  At  length,"  said  he,  "  at  length,  having  over- 
come every  impediment,  I  am  present ;  wliich  presence,  if 
you  please,  my  friend,  will  be  advantageous  to  you,  but  to 
me  totally  unprofitable  ;  for  I  am  doomed,  by  a  sentence 
*  Terent.  Aiiclr.  iv.  1. 

270  WILLIAM   OF    MALMESBURY.  [b  iii. 

which  has  been  pronounced  and  approved,  to  eternal  punish- 
ment." When  the  living  man  promised  to  give  all  his  pro- 
perty to  monasteries,  and  to  the  poor,  and  to  spend  days  and 
nights  in  fasting  and  prayer,  for  the  release  of  the  defunct  ; 
he  replied,  "  What  I  have  said  is  fixed  ;  for  the  j  udgments 
of  God,  by  which  I  am  plunged  in  the  sulphureous  whirl- 
pool of  hell,  are  without  repentance.  There  I  shall  be  tossed 
for  my  crimes,  as  long  as  the  pole  whirls  round  the  stars,  or 
ocean  beats  the  shores.  The  rigour  of  this  irreversible  sen- 
tence remains  for  ever,  devising  lasting  and  innumerable 
kinds  of  punishment :  now,  therefore,  let  the  whole  world 
seek  for  availing  remedies  !  And  that  you  may  experience 
some  little  of  my  numberless  pains,  behold,"  said  he,  stretch- 
ing out  his  hand,  dripping  with  a  corrupted  ulcer,  "  one  of 
the  very  smallest  of  them  ;  does  it  appear  trifling  to  you  ?" 
When  the  other  replied,  that  it  did  appear  so  ;  he  bent  his 
fingers  into  the  palm,  and  threw  three  drops  of  the  purulent 
matter  upon  him  ;  two  of  which  touching  his  temples,  and 
one  his  forehead,  penetrated  the  skin  and  flesh,  as  if  with  a 
burning  cautery,  and  made  holes  of  the  size  of  a  nut.  When 
his  friend  acknowledged  the  acuteness  of  the  pain,  by  the 
cry  he  uttered,  "  This,"  said  the  dead  man,  "  will  be  a  strong 
proof  to  you,  as  long  as  you  live,  of  my  pains  ;  and,  unless 
you  neglect  it,  a  singular  token  for  your  salvation.  Where- 
fore, while  you  have  the  power;  while  indignation  is  sus- 
pended over  your  head  ;  while  God's  lingering  mercy  waits 
for  you  ;  change  your  habit,  change  your  disposition  ;  be- 
come a  monk  at  Rennes,  in  the  monastery  of  St,  Melanius." 
When  the  living  man  was  unwilling  to  agree  to  these  words, 
the  other,  sternly  glancing  at  him,  "  If  you  doubt,  wretched 
man,"  said  he,  "  turn  and  read  these  letters  ;"  and  with  these 
words,  he  stretched  out  his  hand,  inscribed  with  black  charac- 
ters, in  which,  Satan,  and  all  the  company  of  infernals  sent 
their  thanks,  from  hell,  to  the  whole  ecclesiastical  body  ;  as 
well  for  denying  themselves  no  single  pleasure,  as  for  sending, 
through  neglect  of  their  preaching,  so  many  of  their  subject- 
souls  to  hell,  as  no  former  age  had  ever  witnessed.  With 
these  words  the  speaker  vanished  ;  and  the  hearer  dis- 
tributing his  whole  property  to  the  church  and  to  the  p6pr, 
went  to  the  monastery  ;  admonishing  all,  who  heard  or  saw 
him,  of  his  sudden  conversion,  and  extraordinary  interview, 

A.D.  1065.]  NEGOTIATION   OF    WILLIAM   I.  271 

SO  that  they  exclaimed,  "  It  is  the  right  hand  of  the  ALnighty 
that  has  done  this." 

I  feel  no  regret  at  having  inserted  this  for  the  benefit  of 
my  readers  :  now  I  shall  return  to  WilHam.  For  since  I 
have  briefly,  but  I  hope  not  uselessly,  gone  over  the  transac- 
tions in  which  he  was  engaged,  when  only  earl  of  Normandy, 
for  thirty  years,  the  order  of  time  now  requires  a  new  series 
of  relation  ;  that  I  may,  as  far  as  my  inquiries  have  dis- 
covered, detect  fallacy,  and  declare  the  truth  relating  to  his 
regal  government. 

When  king  Edward  had  yielded  to  fate,  England,  fluc- 
tuating with  doubtful  favour,  was  uncertain  to  which  ruler 
she  should  commit  herself :  to  Harold,  William,  or  Edgar  : 
for  the  king  had  recommended  him  also  to  the  nobility,  as 
nearest  to  the  sovereignty  in  point  of  birth  ;  concealing  his 
better  judgment  from  the  tenderness  of  his  disposition. 
Wherefore,  as  I  have  said  above,  the  English  were  distracted 
in  their  choice,  although  all  of  them  openly  wished  well  to 
Harold.  He,  indeed,  once  dignified  with  the  diadem,  thought 
nothing  of  the  covenant  between  himself  and  William  :  he 
said,  that  he  was  absolved  from  liis  oath,  because  liis  daughter, 
to  whom  he  had  been  betrothed,  had  died  before  she  was 
marriageable.  For  this  man,  though  possessing  numberless 
good  qualities,  is  reported  to  have  been  careless  about  ab- 
staining from  perfidy,  so  that  he  could,  by  any  device,  elude 
the  reasonings  of  men  on  this  matter.  Moreover,  supposing 
that  the  threats  of  William  would  never  be  put  into  execution, 
because  he  was  occupied  in  wars  with  neighbouring  princes, 
he  had,  with  his  subjects,  given  full  indulgence  to  security. 
For  indeed,  had  he  not  heard  that  the  king  of  Norway  was 
approaching,  he  would  neither  have  condescended  to  collect 
troops,  nor  to  array  them.  William,  in  the  meantime,  began 
mildly  to  address  him  by  messengers  ;'  to  expostulate  on  the 
broken  covenant ;  to  mingle  threats  with  entreaties  ;  and  to 
warn  him,  that  ere  a  year  expired,  he  would  claim  his  due 
by  the  sword,  and  that  he  would  come  to  that  place,  where 
Harold  supposed  he  had  firmer  footing  than  himself.  Harold 
again  rejoined  what  I  have  related,  concerning  the  nuptials 
of  his  daughter,  and  added,  that  he  had  been  precipitate  on 
the  subject  of  the  kingdom,  in  having  confirmed  to  liim  by 
oath  another's  right,  without  the  universal  consent  and  edict 

272  WILLIAM   OF   MALMESBURY.  [b.  in. 

of  the  general  meeting,  and  of  the  people :  again,  that  a  rash 
oath  ought  to  be  broken  ;  for  if  the  oath,  or  vow,  which  a 
maiden,  under  her  father's  roof,  made  concerning  her  person, 
without  the  knowledge  of  her  parents,  was  adjudged  invalid  ; 
how  much  more  invalid  must  that  oath  be,  which  he  had 
made  concerning  the  whole  kingdom,  when  under  the  king's 
authority,  compelled  bj  the  necessity  of  the  time,  and  with- 
out the  knowledge  of  the  nation.*  Besides  it  was  an  unjust 
request,  to  ask  him  to  resign  a  government  which  he  had 
assumed  by  the  universal  kindness  of  his  fellow  subjects, 
and  which  would  neither  be  agreeable  to  the  people,  nor  safe 
for  the  military. 

In  this  way,  confounded  either  by  true,  or  plausible,  argu- 
ments, the  messengers  returned  without  success.  The  earl, 
however,  made  every  necessary  preparation  for  war  during 
the  whole  of  that  year ;  retained  his  own  soldiers  with  in- 
creased pay,  and  invited  those  of  others :  ordered  his  ranks 
and  battalions  in  such  wise,  that  the  soldiers  should  be  tall 
and  stout;  that  the  commanders  and  standard-bearers,  in 
addition  to  their  military  science,  should  be  looked  up  to  for 
their  wisdom  and  age ;  insomuch,  that  each  of  them,  whether 
seen  in  the  field  or  elsewhere,  might  be  taken  for  a  prince, 
rather  than  a  leader.  The  bishops  and  abbats  of  those  days 
vied  so  much  in  religion,  and  the  nobility  in  princely  libe- 
rality, that  it  is  wonderful, f  within  a  period  of  less  than 
sixty  J  years,  how  either  order  should  have  become  so  un- 
fruitful in  goodness,  as  to  take  up  a  confederate  war  against 
justice:  the  former,  through  desire  of  ecclesiastical  promo- 
tion, embracing  wrong  in  preference  to  right  and  equity; 
and  the  latter,  casting  oiF  shame,  and  seeking  every  occasion 

*  "  These  words  seem  to  imply  that  the  Great  Council  of  the  kingdom 
had  never  agreed  to  any  settlement  of  the  crown  on  the  duke  ;  and  with- 
out such  sanction  no  oath  made  by  Harold  in  favour  of  William  would 
have  been  binding." — Hardy. 

+  Some  copies  omit  from  "  it  is  wonderful,"  to  "  But,"  and  substitute 

as  follows : — "  that  in  the  course  of  a  very  few  years,  manf ,  if  not 

all,  things  were  seen  changed  in  either  order.  The  former  became,  in  some 
respects,  more  dull  but  more  liberal :  the  latter,  more  prudent  in  every 
thing,  but  more  penurious ;  yet  both,  in  defending  their  country,  valiant  in 
battle,  provident  in  counsel  ;  prepared  to  advance  their  own  fortune,  and 
to  depress  that  of  their  enemies." 

J  This  passage  enables  us. to  ascertain  nearly  the  year  in  which  William 
of  Malmesbury's  work  was  written. 


for  begging  money  as  for  tlieir  daily  pay.     But  at  that  time 
the  prudence  of  William,  seconded  by  the  providence  of  God, 
already  anticipated  the  invasion  of  England;  and  that  no 
rashness  might  stain  his  just  cause,  he  sent  to  the  pope,  for- 
merly Anselm,  bishop  of  Lucca,  who  had  assumed  the  name 
of  Alexander,  alleging  the  justice  of  the  war  which  he  medi- 
tated with    all   the    eloquence   he  was  master  of     Harold 
omitted  to  do  this,  either  because  he  was  proud  by  nature, 
or  else  distrusted  liis  cause;  or  because  he  feared  that  his 
messengers  would  be  obstructed  by  William  and  his  parti- 
sans, who  beset  every  port.     The  pope,  duly  examining  the 
pretensions  of  both  parties,  delivered  a  standard  to  William, 
as    an   auspicious   presage    of  the   kingdom:    on    receiving 
which,  he  summoned  an  assembly  of  liis  nobles,  at  Lillebourne, 
for  the  purpose   of  ascertaining   their   sentiments    on   this 
attempt.     Ajid  when  he  had   confirmed,   by  splendid  pro- 
mises, all  who  approved  his  design,  he  appointed   them  to 
prepare  shipping,  in  proportion  to  the  extent  of  their  pos- 
sessions.    Thus  they  departed   at  that   time;    and,   in  the 
month  of  August,  re-assembled  in  a  body  at  St.  Yallery,* 
for  so  that  port  is   called   by  its   new  name.     Collecting, 
therefore,  ships  from  every  quarter,  they  awaited  l^e  pro- 
pitious gale  which  was  to  carry  them  to  their  destination. 
When  this  delayed  blowing  for  several  days,  the  common 
soldiers,  as  is  generally  the  case,  began  to  mutter  in  their 
tents,  "  that  the  man  must  be  mad,  who  wished  to  subjugate 
a  foreign  country ;  that  God  opposed  him,  who  withheld  the 
wind ;  that  his  father  purposed  a  similar  attempt,  and  was 
in  like  manner  frustrated ;  that  it  was  the  fate  of  that  family 
to  aspire  to  things  beyond  their  reach,  and  find  God  for  their 
adversary."     In  consequence  of  these  things,   which  were 
enough  to  enervate  the  force  of  the  brave,  being  publicly 
noised  abroad,  the  duke  held  a  council  with  his  chiefs,  and 
ordered  the  body  of  St.  Vallery  to  be  brought  forth,  and  to 
be  exposed  to  the  open  air,  for  the  purpose  of  imploring  a 

*  "  There  are  two  places  called  St.  Valeri ;  one  in  Picardy,  situated  at 
the  mouth  of  the  Somme,  and  formerly  called  Leugonaus  ;  the  other  is  a 
large  sea-port  town,  situated  in  Normandy,  in  the  diocese  of  Rouen,  and 
was  formerly  called  S.  Valeri  les  Plains,  but  now  S.  Valeri  en  Caux.  It 
seems  to  be  the  former  place  to  which  Malmesbury  here  refers,  '  In  Pon- 
tivo  apud  S.  Walericum  in  ancoris  congrue  stare  fecit,'  writes  William  of 
Jumieges." — Harby. 

274  WILLIAM   OP   MALMESBURY.  [b.  iir. 

wind.  No  delay  now  interposed,  but  the  wisted-for  gale 
filled  their  sails.  A  joyful  clamour  then  arising,  summoned 
every  one  to  the  ships.  The  earl  himself  first  launcliing 
from  the  continent  into  the  deep,  awaited  the  rest,  at  anchor, 
nearly  in  mid-channel.  All  then  assembled  round  the  crim- 
son sail  of  the  admiral's  ship ;  and,  having  first  dined,  they 
arrived,  after  a  favourable  passage,  at  Hastings.  As  he  dis- 
embarked he  slipped  down,  but  turned  the  accident  to  his 
advantage;  a  soldier  who  stood  near  calling  out  to  him, 
"  you  hold  England,*  my  lord,  its  future  king."  He  then 
restrained  his  whole  army  from  plundering ;  warning  them, 
thai  they  should  now  abstain  from  what  must  hereafter  be 
their  own ;  f  and  for  fifteen  successive  days  he  remained  so 
perfectly  quiet,  that  he  seemed  to  think  of  nothing  less  than 
of  war. 

In  the  meantime  Harold  returned  from  the  battle  with 
the  Norwegians ;  happy,  in  his  own  estimation,  at  having 
conquered ;  but  not  so  in  mine,  as  he  had  secured  the  victory 
by  parricide.  When  the  news  of  the  Norman's  arrival 
reached  him,  reeking  as  he  was  from  battle,  he  proceeded  to 
Hastings,  though  accompanied  by  very  few  forces.  No 
doubt  the  fates  urged  him  on,  as  he  neither  summoned  his 

•  This  was  said  in  allusion  to  the  feudal  investiture,  or  formal  act  of 
taking  possession  of  an  estate  by  the  delivery  of  certain  symbols.  "  This 
story,  however,  is  rendered  a  little  suspicious  by  these  words  being  in  exact 
conformity  with  those  of  Caesar,  when  he  stumbled  and  fell  at  his  landing 
in  Africa,  Teneo  te,  Africa.  The  silence  of  William  of  Poitou,  who  was 
the  duke's  chaplain,  and  with  him  at  his  landing,  makes  the  truth  of  it  still 
more  doubtful," — Hardy. 

t  "  Whatever  may  have  been  the  conqueror's  orders,  to  restrain  his 
army  from  plundering,  it  is  conclusive,  from  the  Domesday  Survey,  that 
they  were  of  no  avail.  The  whole  of  the  country,  in  the  neighboiu-hood  of 
Hastings,  appears  to  have  been  laid  waste.  Sir  Henry  Ellis,  in  the  last 
edition  of  his  General  Introduction  to  Domesday,  observes,  that  the  de- 
struction occasioned  by  the  conqueror's  army  on  its  first  arrival,  is  apparent 
more  particularly  under  HoUington,  Bexhill,  &c.  The  value  of  each 
manor  is  given  as  it  stood  in  the  reign  of  the  conqueror  ;  afterwards  it  is 
said,  '  vastatum  fuit;'  and  then  follows  the  value  at  the  time  of  the  survey. 
The  situation  of  those  manors  evidently  shows  their  devastated  state  to 
have  been  owing  to  the  army  marching  over  it ;  and  this  clearly  evinces 
another  circumstance  relating  to  the  invasion,  which  is,  that  William  did 
not  land  his  army  at  one  particular  spot,  at  Bulwerhithe,  or  Hastings,  as  is 
supposed, — but  at  all  the  several  proper  places  for  landing  along  the  coast, 
from  Bexhill  to  Winchelsea." — Hardy. 

A.o.  1066.]  HAKOLD's    spies    TAKEN.  275 

troops,  nor,  had  lie  been  willing  to  do  so,  would  he  have 
found  many  ready  to  obey  his  call;  so  hostile  were  all  to 
him,  as  I  have  before  observed,  from  his  having  appropriated 
the  northern  spoils  entirely  to  himself.  He  sent  out  some 
persons,  however,  to  reconnoitre  the  number  and  strength  of 
the  enemy:  these,  being  taken  within  the  camp,  William 
ordered  to  be  led  amongst  the  tents,  and,  after  feasting 
them  plentifully,  to  be  sent  back  uninjured  to  their  lord. 
On  their  return,  Harold  inquired  what  news  they  brought : 
when,  after  relating  at  full,  the  noble  confidence  of  the 
general,  they  gravely  added,  that  almost  all  his  army  had  the 
appearance  of  priests,  as  they  had  the  whole  face,  with  both 
lips,  shaven.  For  the  English  leave  the  upper  lip  unshorn, 
suifering  the  hair  continually  to  increase;  which  Julius 
Caesar,  in  his  treatise  on  the  Gallic  War,*  affirms  to  have 
been  a  national  custom  with  the  ancient  inhabitants  of 
Britain.  The  king  smiled  at  the  simplicity  of  the  relators, 
observing,  with  a  pleasant  laugh,  that  they  were  not  priests, 
but  soldiers,  strong  in  arms,  and  invincible  in  spirit.  His 
brother.  Girth,  a  youth,  on  the  verge  of  manhood,  and  of 
knowledge  and  valour  surpassing  his  years,  caught  up  his 
words :  "  Since,"  said  he,  "  you  extol  so  much  the  valour  of 
the  Norman,  I  think  it  ill-advised  for  you,  who  are  his 
inferior  in  strength  and  desert,  to  contend  with  him.  Nor 
can  you  deny  being  bound  to  him,  by  oath,  either  willingly, 
or  by  compulsion.  Wherefore  you  will  act  wisely,  if,  your- 
self withdrawing  from  this  pressing  emergency,  you  allow  us 
to  try  the  issue  of  a  battle.  We,  who  are  free  from  all  obH- 
gation,  shall  justly  draw  the  sword  in  defence  of  our  country. 
It  is  to  be  apprehended,  if  you  engage,  that  you  will  be 
either  subjected  to  flight  or  to  death:  whereas,  if  we  only 
fight,  your  cause  will  be  safe  at  all  events :  for  you  will  be 
able  both  to  rally  the  fugitives,  and  to  avenge  the  dead." 

His  unbridled  rashness  yielded  no  placid  ear  to  the  words 
of  his  adviser,  thinking  it  base,  and  a  reproach  to  his  past 
life,  to  turn  his  back  on  danger  of  any  kind;  and,  with 
similar  impudence,  or  to  speak  more  favourably,  imprudence, 
he  drove  away  a  monk,  the  messenger  of  William,  not  deign- 
ing him  even  a  complacent  look ;  imprecating  only,  that  God 
would  decide  between  him  and  the  earl.  He  was  the  bearer 
*  Lib.  V.  c.  14. 

276  WILLIAM   OF    MALMESBLTIY.  [b.  rir. 

of  three  propositions ;  either  that  Harold  should  relinquish 
the  kingdom,  according  to  his  agreement,  or  hold  it  of 
William ;  or  decide  the  matter  by  single  combat  in  the  sight 
of  either  army.  For  William  *  claimed  the  kingdom,  on  the 
ground  that  king  Edward,  by  the  advice  of  Stigand,  the 
archbishop,  and  of  the  earls  Godwin  and  SiAvard,  had 
granted  it  to  him,  and  had  sent  the  son  and  nephew  of  God- 
win to  Normandy,  as  sureties  of  the  grant.  If  Harold 
should  deny  this,  he  would  abide  by  the  judgment  of  the 
pope,  or  by  battle :  on  all  which  propositions,  the  messenger 
being  frustrated  by  the  single  answer  I  have  related,  re- 
turned, and  communicated  to  his  party  fresh  spirit  for  the 

The  courageous  leaders  mutually  prepared  for  battle,  each 
according  to  his  national  custom.  The  English,  as  we  have 
heard,  passed  the  night  without  sleep,  in  drinking  and  sing- 
ing, and,  in  the  morning,  proceeded  without  delay  towards 
the  enemy ;  all  were  on  foot,  armed  with  battle-axes,  and 
covering  themselves  in  front  by  the  junction  of  their  shields, 
they  formed  an  impenetrable  body,  which  would  have  se- 
cured their  safety  that  day,  had  not  the  Normans,  by  a 
feigned  flight,  induced  them  to  open  their  ranks,  which  till 
that  time,  according  to  their  custom,  were  closely  compacted. 
The  king  himself  on  foot,  stood,  with  his  brother,  near  the 
standard ;  in  order  that,  while  all  shared  equal  danger,  none 
might  think  of  retreating.  This  standard  William  sent, 
after  the  victory,  to  the  pope ;  it  was  sumptuously  embroi- 
dered, with  gold  and  precious  stones,  in  the  form  of  a  man 

On  the  other  side,  the  Normans  passed  the  whole  night 
in  confessing  their  sins,  and  received  the  sacrament  in  the 
morning:  their  infantry,  with  bows  and  arrows,  formed  the 
vanguard,  while  their  cavalry,  divided  into  wings,  were 
thrown  back.  The  earl,  with  serene  countenance,  declaring 
aloud,  that  God  would  favour  his,  as  being  the  righteous 
side,  called  for  his  arms;  and  presently,  when,  through  the 

*  This  is  from  W.  Pictaviensis,  who  puts  it  in  the  mouth  of  the  con- 
queror, but  it  is  evidently  false;  for  Godwin  died  a.d.  1053,  Siward  a.d. 
1055,  and  in  1054  we  find  Edward  the  Confessor  sending  for  his  nephew 
from  Hungary,  to  make  him  his  successor  in  the  kingdom,  who,  accord- 
ingly, arrives  in  a.d.  1057,  and  dies  almost  immediately  after.  He  could 
not,  therefore,  have  made  the  settlement  as  here  asserted. 

A.D.  1066.J  BATTLE    OF    HASTINGS.  277 

hurry  of  his  attendants,  he  had  put  on  his  hauberk  the  hind 
part  before,*  he  corrected  the  mistake  with  a  laugh ;  saying, 
"  My  dukedom  shall  be  turned  into  a  kingdom."  Then  be- 
ginning the  song  of  Roland,  f  that  the  warlike  example  of 
that  man  might  stimulate  the  soldiers,  and  calling  on  God 
for  assistance,  the  battle  commenced  on  both  sides.  They 
fought  with  ardour,  neither  giving  ground,  for  great  part 
of  the  day.  Finding  this,  William  gave  a  signal  to  his  party, 
that,  by  a  feigned  flight,  they  should  retreat.  Through  tlus 
device,  the  close  body  of  the  English,  opening  for  the  pur- 
pose of  cutting  down  the  straggling  enemy,  brought  upon 
itself  swift  destruction ;  for  the  Normans,  facing  about,  at- 
tacked them  thus  disordered,  and  compelled  them  to  fly.  In 
tliis  manner,  deceived  by  a  stratagem,  they  met  an  honour- 
able death  in  avenging  their  country ;  nor  indeed  were  they 
at  all  wanting  to  their  own  revenge,  as,  by  frequently  making 
a  stand,  they  slaughtered  their  pursuers  in  heaps :  for,  get- 
ting possession  of  an  eminence,  they  drove  down  the  Nor- 
mans, when  roused  with  indignation  and  anxiously  striving 
to  gain  the  higher  ground,  into  the  valley  beneath,  where, 
easily  hurUng  their  javelins  and  rolUng  down  stones  on  them 
as  they  stood  below,  they  destroyed  them  to  a  man.  Be- 
sides, by  a  short  passage,  with  wliich  they  were  acquainted, 
avoiding  a  deep  ditch,  they  trod  under  foot  such  a  multitude 
of  their  enemies  in  that  place,  that  they  made  the  hollow 
level  with  the  plain,  by  the  heaps  of  carcasses.  This  vicissi- 
tude of  first  one  party  conquering,  and  then  the  other,  pre- 
vailed as  long  as  the  life  of  Harold  continued ;  but  when  he 
fell,  from  having  his  brain  pierced  with  an  arrow,  the  flight 
of  the  Enghsh  ceased  not  until  night.  The  valour  of  both 
leaders  was  here  eminently  conspicuous.  ->'-^v,..  iv.  •:  u^'"- 
Harold,  not  merely  content  with  the  duty  of  a  general  in 
exhorting  others,  dihgently  entered  into  every  soldier-like 
office;  often  would  he  strike  the  enemy  when  coming  to 
close  quarters,  so  that  none  could  approach  him  with  im- 
punity; for  immediately  the  same  blow  levelled  both  horse 
and  rider.     Wherefore,  as  I  have  related,  receiving  the  fatal 

*  As  the  armour  of  that  time  was  of  mail,  this  might  easily  happen. 

+  What  this  was  is  not  known  ;  but  it  is  supposed  to  have  been  a  ballad 
or  romance,  commemorating  the  heroic  achievements  of  the  pretended 
ntphew  of  Charlemagne. 

278  WILLIAM   OP   MALMESBURY.  Lb.  m. 

arrow  from  a  distance,  he  yielded  to  death.  One  of  the 
soldiers  with  a  sword  gashed  his  thigh,  as  he  lay  prostrate ; 
for  which  shameful  and  cowardly  action,  he  was  branded 
with  ignominy  by  William,  and  dismissed  the  service. 

William  too  was  equally  ready  to  encourage  by  his  voice 
and  by  his  presence;  to  be  the  first  to  rush  forward;  to 
attack  the  thickest  of  the  foe.  Thus  everywhere  raging, 
everywhere  furious,  he  lost  three  choice  horses,  which  were 
that  day  pierced  under  him.  The  dauntless  spirit  and 
vigour  of  the  intrepid  general,  however,  still  persisted, 
though  often  called  back  by  the  kind  remonstrance  of  his 
body-guard;  he  still  persisted,  I  say,  till  approaching  night 
crowned  him  with  complete  victory.  And  no  doubt,  the 
hand  of  God  so  protected  him,  that  the  enemy  should  draw 
no  blood  from  his  person,  though  they  aimed  so  many  jave- 
lins at  him. 

This  was  a  fatal  day  to  England,  a  melancholy  havoc  of 
our  dear  country,  through  its  change  of  masters.  For  it 
had  long  since  adopted  the  manners  of  the  Angles,  which 
had  been  very  various  according  to  the  times  :  for  in  the 
first  years  of  their  arrival,  they  were  barbarians  in  their 
look  and  manners,  warlike  in  their  usages,  heathens  in  their 
rites ;  but,  after  embracing  the  faith  of  Christ,  by  degrees, 
and  in  process  of  time,  from  the  peace  they  enjoyed,  regard- 
ing arms  only  in  a  secondary  light,  they  gave  their  whole 
attention  to  religion.  I  say  nothing  of  the  poor,  the  mean- 
ness of  whose  fortune  often  restrains  them  from  overstepping 
the  bounds  of  justice:  I  omit  men  of  ecclesiastical  rank, 
whom  sometimes  respect  to  their  profession,  and  sometimes 
the  fear  of  shame,  suffer  not  to  deviate  from  the  truth:  I 
speak  of  princes,  who  from  the  greatness  of  their  power 
might  have  full  liberty  to  indulge  in  pleasure;  some  of 
whom,  in  their  own  country,  and  others  at  Rome,  changing 
their  habit,  obtained  a  heavenly  kingdom,  and  a  saintly 
intercourse.  Many  during  their  whole  lives  in  outward 
appearance  only  embraced  the  present  world,  in  order  that 
they  might  exhaust  their  treasures  on  the  poor,  or  divide 
them  amongst  monasteries.  What  shall  I  say  of  the  multi- 
tudes of  bishops,  hermits,  and  abbats?  Does  not  the  whole 
island  blaze  with  such  numerous  relics  of  its  natives,  that 
you  can  scarcely  pass  a  village  of  any  consequence  but  you 

A.D.  1066]  CUSTOMS    OF    THE    ENGLISH.  279 

hear  the  name  of  some  new  saint,  besides  the  numbers  of 
whom  all  notices  have  perished  through  the  want  of  records  ? 
Nevertheless,  in  process  of  time,  the  desire  after  literature 
and  religion  had  decayed,  for  several  years  before  the  arrival 
of  the  Normans.  The  clergy,  contented  with  a  very  slight 
degree  of  learning,  could  scarcely  stammer  out  the  words  of 
the  sacraments ;  and  a  person  who  understood  grammar,  was 
an  object  of  wonder  and  astonishment.  The  monks  mocked 
the  rule  of  their  order  by  fine  vestments,  and  the  use  of 
every  kind  of  food.  The  nobility,  given  up  to  luxury  and 
wantonness,  went  not  to  church  in  the  morning  after  the 
manner  of  Christians,  but  merely,  in  a  careless  manner, 
heard  matins  and  masses  from  a  hurrying  priest  in  their 
chambers,  amid  the  blandishments  of  their  wives.  The 
commonalty,  left  unprotected,  became  a  prey  to  the  most 
powerful,  who  amassed  fortunes,  by  either  seizing  on  their 
property,  or  by  selling  their  persons  into  foreign  countries ; 
although  it  be  an  innate  quality  of  this  people,  to  be  more 
inclined  to  revelling,  than  to  the  accumulation  of  wealth. 
There  was  one  custom,  repugnant  to  nature,  which  they 
adopted;  namely,  to  sell  their  female  servants,  when  preg- 
nant by  them  and  after  they  had  satisfied  their  lust,  either 
to  public  prostitution,  or  foreign  slavery.  Drinking  in  par- 
ties was  a  universal  practice,  in  which  occupation  they 
passed  entire  nights  as  well  as  days.  They  consumed  their 
whole  substance  in  mean  and  despicable  houses ;  unlike  the 
Normans  and  French,  who,  in  noble  and  splendid  mansions, 
lived  with  frugality.  The  vices  attendant  on  di'unkenness, 
which  enervate  the  human  mind,  followed;  hence  it  arose 
that  engaging  William,  more  with  rashness,  and  precipitate 
fury,  than  military  skill,  they  doomed  themselves,  and  their 
country  to  slavery,  by  one,  and  that  an  easy,  victory.  "  For 
nothing  is  less  effective  than  rashness ;  and  what  begins  with 
violence,  quickly  ceases,  or  is  repelled."  In  fine,  the  English 
at  that  time,  wore  short  garments  reaching  to  the  mid-knee ; 
they  had  their  hair  cropped ;  their  beards  shaven  ;  their  arms 
laden  with  golden  bracelets;  their  skin  adorned  with  punc- 
tured designs.  They  were  accustomed  to  eat  till  they  be- 
came surfeited,  and  to  drink  till  they  were  sick.  These 
latter  qualities  they  imparted  to  their  conquerors ;  as  to  the 
rest,  they  adopted  their  manners.     I  would  not,  however, 

280  WILLIAM   OF   MALMESBURT.  [b  in. 

have  these  bad  propensities  universally  ascribed  to  the  Eng- 
lish. I  know  that  many  of  the  clergy,  at  that  day,  trod  the 
path  of  sanctity,  by  a  blameless  life;  I  know  that  many  of 
the  laity,  of  all  ranks  and  conditions,  in  this  nation,  were 
well-pleasing  to  God.  Be  injustice  far  from  this  account; 
the  accusation  does  not  involve  the  whole  indiscriminately. 
"  But,  as  in  peace,  the  mercy  of  God  often  cherishes  the 
bad  and  the  good  together;  so,  equally,  does  his  severity, 
sometimes,  include  them  both  in  captivity." 

Moreover,  the  Normans,  that  I  may  speak  of  them  also, 
were  at  that  time,  and  are  even  now,  proudly  apparelled, 
delicate  in  their  food,  but  not  excessive.  They  are  a  race 
inured  to  war,  and  can  hardly  live  without  it ;  fierce  in  rush- 
ing against  the  enemy  ;  and  where  strength  fails  of  success, 
ready  to  use  stratagem,  or  to  corrupt  by  bribery.  As  I  have 
related,  they  live  in  large  edifices  with  economy  ;  envy  their 
equals  ;  wish  to  excel  their  superiors  ;  and  plunder  their 
subjects,  though  they  defend  them  from  others  ;  they  are 
faithful  to  their  lords,  though  a  slight  ofience  renders  them 
perfidious.  They  weigh  treachery  by  its  chance  of  success, 
and  change  their  sentiments  with  money.  They  are,  however, 
the  kindest  of  nations,  and  they  esteem  strangers  worthy  of 
equal  honour  with  themselves.  They  also  intermarry  with 
their  vassals.  They  revived,  by  their  arrival,  the  observ- 
ances of  religion,  which  were  everywhere  grown  lifeless  in 
England.  You  might  see  churches  rise  in  every  village,  and 
monasteries  in  the  towns  and  cities,  built  after  a  style  un- 
known before  ;  you  might  behold  the  country  flourishing 
with  renovated  rites  ;  so  that  each  wealthy  man  accounted 
that  day  lost  to  him,  which  he  had  neglected  to  signalize  by 
some  magnificent  action.  But  having  enlarged  sufficiently 
on  these  points,  let  us  pursue  the  transactions  of  William. 

When  his  victory  was  complete,  he  caused  his  dead  to  be 
interred  with  great  pomp  ;  granting  the  enemy  the  liberty  of 
doing  the  like,  if  they  thought  proper.  He  sent  the  body  of 
Harold*  to  his  mother,  who  begged  it,  unransomed  ;  though 

*  There  seems  to  have  been  a  fabulous  story  current  during  the  twelfth 
century,  that  Harold  escaped  from  the  battle  of  Hastings.  Giraldus  Cam- 
brensis  asserts,  that  it  was  believed  Harold  had  fled  from  the  battle-field, 
pierced  with  many  wounds,  and  with  the  loss  of  his  left  eye  ;  and  that  he 
ended  his  days  piously  and  virtuously,  as  an  anchorite,  at  Chester.     Both 

A.D.  1066.]  William's  coronation.  281 

she  proffered  large  sums  hj  her  messengers.  She  buried  it, 
when  thus  obtained,  at  Waltham  ;  a  church  which  he  had 
built  at  his  own  expense,  in  honour  of  the  Holy  Cross,  and 
had  endowed  for  canons.  William  then,  by  degrees  proceed- 
ing, as  became  a  conqueror,  with  his  army,  not  after  an  hos- 
tile, but  a  royal  manner,  journeyed  towards  London,  the 
principal  city  of  the  kingdom  ;  and  shortly  after,  all  the 
citizens  came  out  to  meet  him  with  gratulations.  Crowds 
poured  out  of  every  gate  to  greet  him,  instigated  by  the 
nobility,  and  principally  by  Stigand,  archbishop  of  Canter- 
bury, and  Aldred,  of  York.  For,  shortly  before,  Edwin  and 
Morcar,  two  brothers  of  great  expectation,  hearing,  at  Lon- 
don, the  news  of  Harold's  death,  solicited  the  citizens  to 
exalt  one  of  them  to  the  throne  :  faihng,  however,  in  the 
attempt,  they  had  departed  for  Northumberland,  conjecturing, 
from  their  own  feelings,  that  William  would  never  come 
thither.  The  other  chiefs  would  have  chosen  Edgar,  had  the 
bishops  supported  them  ;  but,  danger  and  domestic  broils 
closely  impending,  neither  did  this  take  effect.  Thus  the 
English,  who,  had  they  united  in  one  opinion,  might  have 
repaired  the  ruin  of  their  country,  introduced  a  stranger, 
while  they  were  unwilling  to  choose  a  native,  to  govern  them. 
Being  now  decidedly  hailed  king,  he  was  crowned  on  Christ- 
mas-day by  archbishop  Aldred  ;  for  he  was  careful  not  to 
accept  this  office  from  Stigand,  as  he  was  not  canonically  an 

Of  the  various  wars  which  he  carried  on,  this  is  a  sum- 
mary. Favoured  by  God's  assistance,  he  easily  reduced  the 
city  of  Exeter,*  when  it  had  rebelled  ;  for  part  of  the  wall 

Knighton  and  Brompton  quote  this  story.  W.  Pictaxnensis  says,  that  Wil- 
liam refused  the  body  to  his  mother,  who  offered  its  weight  in  gold  for  it, 
ordering  it  to  be  biu-ied  on  the  sea-coast.  In  the  Harleian  MS.  3776,  be- 
fore referred  to,  Girth,  Harold's  brother,  is  said  to  have  escaped  alive  : 
he  is  represented,  in  his  interview  with  Henry  II.  to  have  spoken  myste- 
riously respecting  Harold,  and  to  have  declared  that  the  body  of  that  prince 
was  not  at  Waltham.  Sir  H.  Ellis,  quoting  this  MS.,  justly  observes,  that 
the  whole  was,  probably,  the  fabrication  of  one  of  the  secular  canons,  who 
were  ejected  at  the  re- foundation  of  Waltham  Abbey  in  1177." — Hardy. 

*  Four  manuscripts  read  Exoniam,  and  one,  namely,  that  which  was 
used  by  Savile,  read  Oxoniam.  But  Matthew  Paris  also  seems  to  have 
read  Ejconiam,  for  such  is  the  text  of  the  two  best  MSS.  of  that  author. 
(Reg.  14,  c.  vii.  and  Cott.  Nero,  d.  v.)  Upon  a  passage  in  the  Domse- 
day  Siurvey,  describing  Oxford  as  containing  478  houses,  which  were  so 

282  WILLIAM   OF    MALMESBURY.  Lb.  iii. 

fell  down  accidentally,  and  made  an  opening  for  him.  Li- 
deed  he  had  attacked  it  with  the  more  ferocity,  asserting 
that  those  irreverent  men  would  be  deserted  by  God's  favour, 
because  one  of  them,  standing  upon  the  wall,  had  bared  his 
posteriors,  and  had  broken  wind,  in  contempt  of  the  Nor- 
mans. He  almost  annihilated  the  city  of  York,  that  sole  re- 
maining shelter  for  rebellion,  and  destroyed  its  citizens  with 
sword  and  famine.  For  there  Malcolm,  king  of  the  Scots, 
with  his  party  ;  there  Edgar,  and  Morcar,  and  Waltheof, 
with  the  English  and  Danes,  often  brooded  over  the  nest  of 
tyranny  ;  there  they  frequently  killed  his  generals  ;  whose 
deaths,  were  I  severally  to  commemorate,  perhaps  I  should 
not  be  superfluous,  though  I  might  risk  the  peril  of  creating 
disgust ;  while  I  should  be  not  easily  pardoned  as  an  histo- 
rian, if  I  were  led  astray  by  the  falsities  of  my  authorities. 

Malcolm  willingly  received  all  the  English  fugitives,  af- 
fording to  each  every  protection  in  his  power,  but  more  es- 
pecially to  Edgar,  whose  sister  he  had  married,  out  of  regard 
to  her  noble  descent.  On  his  behalf  he  burnt  and  plundered 
the  adjacent  provinces  of  England  ;  not  that  he  supposed,  by 
so  doing,  he  could  be  of  any  service  to  him,  with  respect  to 
the  kingdom  ;  but  merely  to  distress  the  mind  of  William, 
who  was  incensed  at  his  territories  being  subject  to  Scottish 
incursions.  In  consequence,  William,  collecting  a  body  of 
foot  and  horse,  repaired  to  the  northern  parts  of  the  island, 
and  first  of  all  received  into  subjection  the  metropolitan  city, 
which  English,  Danes,  and  Scots  obstinately  defended  ;  its 
citizens  being  wasted  with  continued  want.  He  destroyed 
also  in  a  great  and  severe  battle,  a  considerable  number  of 
the  enemy,  who  had  come  to  the  succour  of  the  besieged ; 
though  the  victory  was  not  bloodless  on  his  side,  as  he  lost 

desolated  that  they  could  not  pay  gold.  Sir  H,  Ellis  remarks :  "  The  extra- 
ordinary number  of  houses  specified  as  desolated  at  Oxford,  requires  ex- 
planation. If  the  passage  is  correct,  Matthew  Paris  probably  gives  us  the 
cause  of  it,  under  the  year  1067,  when  William  the  Conqueror  subdued 
Oxford  in  his  way  to  York  : — '  Eodem  tempore  rex  Willielmus  urbem  Ox- 
oniam  sibi  rebellem  obsidione  vallavit.  Super  cujus  murum  quidam,  stans, 
nudato  inguine,  sonitu  partis  inferioris  auras  turbavit,  in  contemptum  vide- 
licet Normannorum ;  unde  Willielmus  in  iram  conversus,  civitatem  levi 
negotio  subjugavit.'  (Matt.  P.  ed.  Watts,  sub  arm.  1067,  p.  4.)  The 
siege  of  Exeter  in  1067  is  also  mentioned  by  Simeon  of  Durham,  col.  197  ; 
Hoveden,  col.  258  ;  Ralph  de  Diceto,  col.  482  ;  Flor.  of  Worces.  fol. 
Franc.  1601,  p.  635  j  and  by  Ordericus  Vitalis,  p.  510."— Hardy. 

A.D.  1068.]  SURRENDER  OF  MALCOLM.  283 

many  of  his  people.  He  then  ordered  both  the  towns  and 
fields  of  the  whole  district  to  be  laid  waste  ;  the  fruits  and 
grain  to  be  destroyed  by  fire  or  by  water,  more  especially  on 
the  coast,  as  well  on  account  of  his  recent  displeasure,  as  be- 
cause a  rumour  had  gone  abroad,  that  Canute,  king  of  Den- 
mark, the  son  of  Sweyn,  was  approaching  with  his  forces. 
The  reason  of  such  a  command,  was,  that  the  plundering 
pirate  should  find  no  booty  on  the  coast  to  take  with  him,  if 
he  designed  to  depart  again  directly  ;  or  should  be  compelled 
to  provide  against  want,  if  he  thought  proper  to  stay.  Thus 
the  resources  of  a  province,*  once  flourishing,  and  the  nurse 
of  tyrants,  were  cut  ofi"  by  fire,  slaughter,  and  devastation  ; 
the  ground,  for  more  than  sixty  miles,  totally  uncultivated 
and  unproductive,  remains  bare  to  the  present  day.  Should 
any  stranger  now  see  it,  he  laments  over  the  once-magnifi- 
cent cities  ;  the  towers  threatening  heaven  itself  with  their 
loftiness  ;  the  fields  abundant  in  pasturage,  and  watered  with 
rivers  :  and,  if  any  ancient  inhabitant  remains,  he  knows  it 
no  longer. 

Malcolm  surrendered  himself,  without  coming  to  an  en- 
gagement, and  for  the  whole  of  William's  time  passed  his 
life  under  treaties,  uncertain,  and  frequently  broken.  But 
when  in  the  reign  of  William,  the  son  of  William,  he  was 
attacked  in  a  similar  manner,  he  diverted  the  king  from  pur- 
suing him  by  a  false  oath.  He  was  slain  soon  after,  together 
with  his  son,  by  Robert  Mowbray,  earl  of  Northumberland, 
while,  regardless  of  his  faith,  he  was  devastating  the  pro- 
vince with  more  than  usual  insolence.  For  many  years,  he 
lay  buried  at  Tynemouth  :  lately  he  was  conveyed  by  Alex- 
ander his  son,  to  Dunfermlin,  in  Scotland. 

*  Domesday  Book  bears  ample  testimony  to  this  statement ;  and  that 
which  closely  follows,  viz.  that  the  resources  of  this  once-flourishing  pro- 
vince were  cut  off  by  fire,  slaughter,  and  devastation  ;  and  the  ground,  for 
more  than  sixty  miles,  totally  uncultivated  and  unproductive,  remains  bare 
to  the  present  day.  The  land,  which  had  belonged  to  Edwin  and  Mortar 
in  Yorkshire,  almost  everywhere  in  the  Survey  is  stated  to  be  wasta ;  and 
in  Amundemess,  after  the  enumeration  of  no  fewer  than  sixty-two  places, 
the  possessions  in  which  amounted  to  one  hundred  and  seventy  carucates, 
it  is  said, '  Omnes  hae  villse  jacent  ad  Prestune,  et  tres  ecclesise.  Ex  his  IG 
a  paucis  incoluntur,  sed  quot  sint  habitantes  ignoratur.  Reliqua  sunt 
wasta.'  Moreover,  waski  is  added  to  numerous  places  belonging  to  the 
archbishop  of  York,  St,  John  of  Beverley,  the  bishop  of  Dvu-ham,  and  to 
those  lands  which  had  belonged  to  Waltheof,  Gospatric,  Siward,  and  Mer- 
lesweyne !— Hardy. 

284  WILLIAM  OF   MALMESBURY.  [a  iir. 

Edgar,  having  submitted  to  the  king  with  Stigand  and  Aldred 
the  archbishops,  violated  his  oath  the  following  year,  by  going 
over  to  the  Scot :  but  after  living  there  some  years,  and  acquiring 
no  present  advantage,  no  future  prospects,  but  merely  his  daily 
sustenance,  being  willing  to  try  the  liberality  of  the  Norman, 
who  was  at  that  time  beyond  the  sea,  he  sailed  over  to  him. 
They  say  this  was  extremely  agreeable  to  the  king,  that  Eng- 
land should  be  thus  rid  of  a  fomenter  of  dissension.  Indeed 
it  was  his  constant  practice,  under  colour  of  high  honour,  to 
carry  over  to  Normandy  all  the  English  he  suspected,  lest 
any  disorders  should  arise  in  the  kingdom  during  his  absence. 
Edgar,  therefore,  was  well  received,  and  presented  with  a 
considerable  largess  :  and  remaining  at  court  for  many  years, 
silently  sunk  into  contempt  through  his  indolence,  or  more 
mildly  speaking,  his  simplicity.  For  how  great  must  his 
simplicity  be,  who  would  yield  up  to  the  king,  for  a  single 
horse,  the  pound  of  silver,  which  he  received  as  his  daily  sti- 
pend ?  In  succeeding  times  he  went  to  Jerusalem  vsdth 
Robert,  the  son  of  Godwin,*  a  most  valiant  knight.  This 
was  the  time  when  the  Turks  besieged  king  Baldwin,  at 
Rama ;  Avho,  unable  to  endure  the  difficulties  of  a  siege,  rushed 
through  the  midst  of  the  enemy,  by  the  assistance  of  Robert 
alone,  who  preceded  him,  and  hewed  down  the  Turks,  on 
either  hand,  with  his  drawn  sword  ;  but,  while  excited  to 
greater  ferocity  by  his  success,  he  was  pressing  on  with  too 
much  eagerness,  his  sword  dropped  from  his  hand,  and  when 
stooping  down  to  recover  it,  he  was  surrounded  by  a  multi- 
tude, and  cast  into  chains.  Taken  thence  to  Babylon,  as  they 
report,  when  he  refused  to  deny  Christ,  he  was  placed  as  a 
mark  in  the  middle  of  the  market-place,  and  being  transfixed 
with  darts,  died  a  martyr.  Edgar,  having  lost  his  com- 
panion, returned,  and  received  many  gifts  from  the  Greek 

*  Fordun  has  a  story  of  Edgar's  being  cleared  from  an  accusation  of 
treason  against  W.  Rufus,  by  one  Godwin,  in  a  duel  ;  whose  son,  Robert, 
is  afterwards  described  as  one  of  Edgar's  adherents  in  Scotland.  L.  v. 
c.  27—34.  «  The  Saxon  Chronicle  states,  that  in  the  year  1106,  he  was 
one  of  the  prisoners  taken  at  the  battle  of  Tinchebrai,  in  Normandy.  Ed- 
gar is  stated,  by  Dr.  Sayers,  in  his  Disquisitions,  8vo,  1808,  p.  296,  upon 
the  authority  of  the  Spelman  MSS.,  to  have  again  visited  Scotland  at  a 
very  advanced  period  of  life,  and  died  in  that  kingdom  in  the  year  1120. 
If  this  date  can  be  relied  upon,  the  passage  above  noted  would  prove  that 
Malmesbury  had  written  this  portion  of  his  history  before  the  close  of  that 
}ear." — Hardy. 

ji.D.1103.]  OF  EDWIN  AND  MORCAR.  285 

and  German  emperors  ;  who,  from  respect  to  his  noble  de- 
scent, would  also  have  endeavoured  to  retain  him  with  them  ; 
but  he  gave  up  everj  tiling,  through  regard  to  his  native 
soil.  "  For,  truly,  the  love  of  their  country  deceives  some 
men  to  such  a  degree,  that  nothing  seems  pleasant  to  them, 
unless  they  can  breathe  their  native  air."  Edgar,  therefore, 
deluded  by  this  silly  desire,  returned  to  England  ;  where,  as 
I  have  before  said,  after  various  revolutions  of  fortune,  he 
now  grows  old  in  the  country  in  privacy  and  quiet. 

Edwin  and  Morcar  were  brothers  ;  the  sons  of  Elfgar,  the 
son  of  Leofric.  They  had  received  charge  of  the  county  of 
Northumberland,  and  jointly  preserved  it  in  tranquillity. 
For,  as  I  have  before  observed,  a  few  days  previous  to  the 
death  of  St.  Edward  the  king,  the  inhabitants  of  the  north 
had  risen  in  rebellion  and  expelled  Tosty,  their  governor  ; 
and,  with  Harold's  approbation,  had  requested,  and  received, 
one  of  these  brothers,  as  their  lord.  These  circumstances, 
as  we  have  heard  from  persons  acquainted  with  the  affair, 
took  place  against  the  inclination  of  the  king,  who  was 
attached  to  Tosty  ;  but  being  languid  through  disease,  and 
worn  down  with  age,  he  become  so  universally  disregarded, 
that  he  could  not  assist  his  favourite.  In  consequence,  his 
bodily  ailments  increasing  from  the  anxiety  of  his  mind,  he 
died  shortly  after.  Harold  persisted  in  his  resolution  of 
banishing  his  brother :  wherefore,  first  tarnishing  the 
triumphs  of  his  family  by  piratical  excursions,  he  was,  as  I 
have  above  written,  afterwards  killed  with  the  king  of 
Norway.  His  body  being  known  by  a  wart  between  the 
shoulders,  obtained  burial  at  York.  Edwin  and  Morcar,  by 
Harold's  command,  then  conveyed  the  spoils  of  war  to 
London,  for  he  liimself  was  proceeding  rapidly  to  the  battle 
of  Hastings  ;  where,  falsely  presaging,  he  looked  upon  the 
victory  as  abeady  gained.  But,  when  he  was  there  killed, 
the  brothers,  flpng  to  the  territories  they  possessed,  disturbed 
the  peace  of  WilHam  for  several  years  ;  infesting  the  woods 
with  secret  robberies,  and  never  coming  to  close  or  open 
engagement.  Often  were  they  taken  captive,  and  as  often 
surrendered  themselves,  but  were  again  dismissed  with 
impunity,  from  pity  to  their  youthful  elegance,  or  respect  to 
their  nobility.  At  last,  murdered,  neither  by  the  force  nor 
craft   of   their    enemies,   but    by  the    treachery   of    their 

286  WILLIAM  OF  MALMESBtJRT.  [»•  "i- 

partisans,  their  fate  drew  tears  from  tlie  king,  who  would 
even  long  since  have  granted  them  matches  with  his 
relations,  and  the  honour  of  his  friendship,  would  they  have 
acceded  to  terms  of  peace. 

Waltheof,  an  earl  of  high  descent,  had  become  extremely 
intimate  with  the  new  king,  who  had  forgotten  his  former 
offences,  and  attributed  them  rather  to  courage,  than  to 
disloyalty.  For  Waltheof,  singly,  had  killed  many  of  the 
Normans  in  the  battle  of  York  ;  cutting  off  their  heads,  one 
by  one,  as  they  entered  the  gate.  He  was  muscular  in  the 
arms,  brawny  in  the  chest,  tall  and  robust  in  his  whole 
person  ;  the  son  of  Siward,  a  most  celebrated  earl,  whom,  by 
a  Danish  term,  they  called  "  Digera,"  which  implies  Strong. 
But  after  the  fall  of  his  party,  he  voluntarily  surrendered 
himself,  and  was  honoured  by  a  marriage  with  Judith,  the 
king's  neice,  as  well  as  with  his  personal  friendship.  Unable 
however  to  restrain  his  evil  inclinations,  he  could  not 
preserve  his  fidelity.  For  all  his  countrymen,  who  had 
thought  proper  to  resist,  being  either  slain,  or  subdued,  he 
became  a  party  even  in  the  perfidy  of  Ralph  de  Waher  ;  but 
the  conspiracy  being  detected,*  he  was  taken ;  kept  in  chains 
for  some  time,  and  at  last,  being  beheaded,  was  buried  at 
Croyland  :  though  some  assert,  that  he  joined  the  league  of 
treachery,  more  through  circumvention  than  inclination. 
This  is  the  excuse  the  English  make  for  him,  and  those,  of 
the  greater  credit,  for  the  Normans  affirm  the  contrary,  to 
whose  decision  the  Divinity  itself  appears  to  assent,  showing 
many  and  very  great  miracles  at  his  tomb  :  for  they  declare, 
that  during  his  captivity,  he  wiped  away  his  transgressions 
by  his  daily  penitence. 

On  this  account  perhaps  the  conduct  of  the  king  may 
reasonably  be  excused,  if  he  was  at  any  time  rather  severe 
against  the  English  ;  for  he  scarcely  found  any  one  of  them 
faithful.  This  circumstance  so  exasperated  his  ferocious 
mind,  that  he  deprived  the  more  powerful,  first  of  their 
wealth,  next  of  their  estates,  and  finally,  some  of  them  of 
their  lives.     Moreover,  he  followed  the  device  of  Caesar,  who 

*  «  Earl  WaHheof,  or  Wallef,  as  he  is  always  styled  in  Domesday  Book, 
was,  accordin.!];  to  the  Saxon  Chronicle,  beheaded  at  Winchester  on  the 
31st  May,  1076.  The  Chronicle  of  Mailros  and  Florence  of  Worcester, 
however,  assign  this  event  to  the  preceding  year." — Hardy. 

A.D.  1074.]  RALPH   DE   WALEE,  287 

drove  out  the  Germans,  concealed  in  the  vast  forest  of 
Ardennes,  whence  they  harassed  his  army  with  perpetual 
irruptions,  not  by  means  of  his  own  countrymen,  but  by  the 
confederate  Gauls ;  that,  while  strangers  destroyed  each 
other,  he  might  gain  a  bloodless  victory.  Thus,  I  say, 
William  acted  towards  the  English.  For,  allowing  the 
Normans  to  be  unemployed,  he  opposed  an  English  army, 
and  an  English  commander,  to  those,  who,  after  the  first 
unsuccessful  battle,  had  fled  to  Denmark  and  Ireland,  and 
had  returned  at  the  end  of  three  years  with  considerable 
force  :  forseeing  that  whichever  side  might  conquer,  it  must 
be  a  great  advantage  to  himself  Nor  did  this  device  fail  him  ; 
for  both  parties  of  the  EngHsh,  after  some  conflicts  between 
themselves,  without  any  exertion  on  his  part,  left  a  victory 
for  the  king  ;  the  invaders  being  driven  to  Ireland,  and  the 
royalists  purchasing  the  empty  title  of  conquest,  at  their  own 
special  loss,  and  that  of  their  general.  His  name  was 
Ednoth,*  equally  celebrated,  before  the  arrival  of  the 
Normans,  both  at  home  and  abroad.  He  was  the  father  of 
Harding,  who  yet  survives  :  a  man  more  accustomed  to 
kindle  strife  by  his  malignant  tongue,  than  to  brandish  arms 
in  the  field  of  battle.  Thus  having  overturned  the  power  of 
the  laity,  he  made  an  ordinance,  that  no  monk,  or  clergyman, 
of  that  nation,  should  be  suffered  to  aspire  to  any  dignity 
whatever ;  excessively  differing  from  the  gentleness  of 
Canute  the  former  king,  who  restored  their  honours, 
unimpaired,  to  the  conquered  :  whence  it  came  to  pass,  that 
at  his  decease,  the  natives  easily  expelled  the  foreigners,  and 
reclaimed  their  original  right.  But  William,  from  certain 
causes,  canonically  deposed  some  persons,  and  in  the  place  of 
such  as  might  die,  appointed  diligent  men  of  any  nation, 
except  English.  Unless  I  am  deceived,  their  inveterate 
frowardness  towards  the  king,  required  such  a  measure  ; 
since,  as  I  have  said  before,  the  Normans  are  by  nature 
kindly  disposed  to  strangers  who  live  amongst  them. 

Ralph,  whom  I  mentioned  before,  was,  by  the  king's  gift, 
earl  of  Norfolk  and  Suffolk  ;  a  Breton  on  his  father's  side  ; 
of  a  disposition  foreign  to  every  thing  good.     This  man.  in 

*  *'  Harold's  master  of  the  horse.  He  was  killed  in  1068,  in  opposing 
the  sons  of  Harold,  when  they  came  upon  their  expedition  from  Ireland." 
— Hardy. 

288  WILLIAM   OF    MALMESBURT.  [b.  xii. 

consequence  of  being  betrothed  to  the  king's  relation,  the 
daughter  of  William  Fitz-Osberne,  conceived  a  most  unjust 
design,  and  meditated  attack  on  the  sovereignty.  Wherefore, 
on  the  very  day  of  liis  nuptials,  whilst  splendidly  banquet- 
ing, for  the  luxury  of  the  English  had  now  been  adopted  by 
the  Normans,  and  when  the  guests  had  become  intoxicated 
and  heated  with  wine,  he  disclosed  his  intention  in  a  copious 
harangue.  As  their  reason  was  entirely  clouded  by  drunken- 
ness, they  loudly  applauded  the  orator.  Here  Roger  earl  of 
Hereford,  brother  to  the  wife  of  Ralph,  and  here  Waltheof, 
together  with  many  others,  conspired  the  death  of  the  king. 
Next  day,  however,  when  the  fumes  of  the  wine  had  evapo- 
rated, and  cooler  thoughts  influenced  the  minds  of  some  of 
the  party,  the  larger  portion,  repenting  of  their  conduct, 
retired  from  the  meeting.  Among  these  is  said  to  have  been 
Waltheof,  who,  at  the  recommendation  of  archbishop  Lan- 
franc,  sailing  to  Normandy,  related  the  matter  to  the  king  ; 
concealing  merely  his  own  share  of  the  business.  The  earls, 
however,  persisted  in  their  design,  and  each  incited  liis  de- 
pendents to  rebel.  But  God  opposed  them,  and  brought  all 
their  machinations  to  nought.  For  immediately  the  king's 
officers,  who  were  left  in  charge,  on  discovering  the  affair, 
reduced  Ralph  to  such  distress,  that  seizing  a  vessel  at  Nor- 
wich, he  committed  himself  to  the  sea.  His  wife,  covenanting 
for  personal  safety,  and  delivering  up  the  castle,  followed  her 
husband.  Roger  being  thrown  into  chains  by  the  king, 
visited,  or  rather  inhabited,  a  prison,  during  the  remainder 
of  his  life  ;  a  young  man  of  abominable  treachery,  and  by 
no  means  imitating  his  father's  conduct. 

His  father,  indeed,  William  Fitz-Osberne,*  might  have 
been  compared,  nay,  I  know  not  if  he  might  not  even  have 
been  preferred,  to  the  very  best  princes.  By  his  advice, 
William  had  first  been  inspirited  to  invade,  and  next,  assisted 
by  his  valour,  to  keep  possession  of  England.  The  energy 
of  his  mind  was  seconded  by  the  almost  boundless  liberality 
of  his  hand.  Hence  it  arose,  that  by  the  multitude  of  soldiers, 
to  whom  he  gave  extravagant  pay,  he  repelled  the  rapacity 
of  the  enemy,  and  ensured  the  favour  of  the  people.     In  con- 

*  "  W,  Fitz-  Osbeme  was  only  the  father-in-law  of  Ralph  de  Guader.* 
— Haedy. 

A.T>.  1074.]  WILLIAM   FITZ-OSBERNE.  289 

sequence,  by  this  boundless  profusion,  he  incurred  the  king's 
severe  displeasure  ;  because  he  had  improvidently  exhausted 
his  treasures.     The  regulations  which  he  established  in  his 
county  of  Hereford,  remain  in  full  force  at  the  present  day  ; 
that  is  to  say,  that  no  knight*  should  be  fined  more  than 
seven  shilUngs  for  whatever  offence  :  whereas,  in  other  pro- 
vinces, for  a  very  small  fault  in  transgressing  the  commands 
of  their    lord,    they  pay  twenty  or  twenty-five.      Fortune, 
however,   closed  these  happy  successes  by  a  dishonourable 
termination,  when  the  supporter  of  so  great  a  government, 
the  counsellor  of  England  and  Normandy,  went  into  Flan- 
ders, through  fond  regard  for  a  woman,  and  there  died  by 
the  hands  of  his  enemies.     For  the  elder  Baldwin,  of  whom 
I  have  before  spoken,  the  father  of  Matilda,  had  two  sons  .: 
Eobert,   who    marrying  the    countess    of  Frisia,    while   hi^ 
father  yet  lived,  took  the  surname  of  Friso  :  Baldwin,  who, 
after  his  father,  presided  some  years  over  Flanders,  and  died 
prematurely.     His  two  children  by  his  wife  Richelda  surviv- 
ing he  had  entrusted  the  guardianship  of  them  to  Philip 
king  of  France,  Avhose  aunt  was  his  mother,  and  to  William 
Fitz-Osberne.     William  readily  undertook  this  office,  that  he 
might  increase  his  dignity  by  an  union  with  Richelda.     But 
she,  through  female  pride,  aspiring  to  things  beyond  her  sex, 
and  exacting  fresh  tributes  from  the  people,  excited  them  to 
rebellion.     Wherefore  despatching   a  messenger   to    Robert 
Friso,  they  entreat  him  to  accept  the  government   of   the 
country  ;  and  abjure  all  fidelity  to  Ai-nulph,  who  was  already 
called  earl.     Nor    indeed   were   there   wanting    persons    to 
espouse  the  party  of  the  minor  :  so  that  for  a  long  time,, 
Flanders  was  disturbed  by  intestine  commotion.     This,  Fitz- 
Osberne,   who  was  desperately  in  love  with  the  lady,  could 
not   endure,   but  entered  Flanders  with  a  body  of  troops  ; 
and,  being  immediately  well  received  by  the  persons  he  came 
to  defend,  after  some  days,  he  rode  securely  from  castle  to 
castle,  in  a  hasty  manner  with  few  attendants.     On  the  other 
hand,  Friso,  who  was  acquainted  with  this  piece  of  folly,  en- 

*  There  is  considerable  difficulty  in  distinguishing  exactly  the  various 
meanings  of  the  term  "  miles."  Sometimes  it  is,  in  its  legitimate  sense,  a 
soldier  generally  ;  sometimes  it  implies  a  horseman,  and  frequently  it  is  to 
be  taken  in  its  modem  acceptation  for  a  knight ;  the  latter  appears  to  be 
the  meaning  here. 


290  WILLIAM    OF    MALMESBURY.  [b.  lU. 

trapped  liim  unawares  by  a  secret  ambush,  and  killed  him, 
fighting  bravely  but  to  no  purpose,  together  with  his  nephew 

Thus  possessed  of  Flanders,  he  often  irritated  king  William, 
by  plundering  Normandy.  His  daughter  married  Canute 
king  of  the  Danes,  of  whom  was  born  Charles,*  who  now 
rules  in  Flanders.  He  made  peace  with  king  Philip,  giving 
him  liis  daughter-in-law  in  marriage,  by  whom  he  had  Lewis, 
who  at  present  reigns  in  France  ;  but  not  long  after,  being 
heartily  tired  of  the  match,  because  his  queen  was  extremely 
corpulent,  he  removed  her  from  his  bed,  and  in  defiance  of 
law  and  equity,  married  the  wife  of  the  earl  of  Anjou. 
Robert,  safe  by  his  affinity  with  these  princes,  encountered 
nothing  to  distress  him  during  his  government  ;  though  Bald- 
win, the  brother  of  Arnulph,  who  had  an  earldom  in  the  pro- 
vince of  Hainault  and  in  the  castle  of  Valenciennes,  by  Wil- 
liam's assistance  made  many  attempts  for  that  purpose. 
Three  years  before  his  death,  when  he  was  now  hoary- 
headed,  he  went  to  Jerusalem,  for  the  mitigation  of  his  trans- 
gressions. After  his  return  he  renounced  the  world,  calmly 
awaiting  his  dissolution  with  Christian  earnestness.  His  son 
was  that  Robert  so  universally  famed  in  the  expedition  into 
Asia,  which,  in  our  limes,  Europe  undertook  against  the 
Turks  ;  but  through  some  mischance,  after  his  return  home, 
he  tarnished  that  noble  exploit,  being  mortally  wounded  in  a 
tournament,  as  they  call  it.  Nor  did  a  happier  fate  attend 
his  son  Baldwin,  who,  voluntarily  harassing  the  forces  of 
Henry  king  of  England,  in  Normandy,  paid  dearly  for  his 
youthful  temerity :  for,  being  struck  on  the  head  with  a  pole, 
and  deceived  by  the  professions  of  several  physicians,  he  lost 
his  life  ;  the  principality  devolving  on  Charles,  of  whom  we 
have  spoken  before. 

Now,  king  William  conducting  himself  with  mildness 
towards  the  obedient  but  with  severity  to  the  rebellious,  pos- 
sessed the  whole  of  England  in  tranquillity,  holding  all  the 
Welsh  tributary  to  him.  At  this  time  too,  beyond  sea,  being 
never  unemployed,  he  nearly  annihilated  the  county  of  Maine, 

*  "  Charles,  called  the  Good.  He  was  the  son  of  Canute  IV,  king  of 
Denmark,  and  Adele,  daughter  of  Robert  le  Prison.  He  succeeded  Bou- 
douin  VII,  as  earl  of  Flanders  (17th  June,  1119,)  and  died  2nd  March, 
il27."— HAiiDir. 

A.D.  1073.1  DEFEAT  OP  THE  DANES.  291 

leading  thither  an  expedition  composed  of  English  ;  who, 
though  thej  had  been  easily  conquered  in  their  own,  yet 
always  appeared  invincible  in  a  foreign  country.  He  lost 
multitudes  of  his  men  at  Dol,*  a  town  of  Brittany,  whither, 
irritated  by  some  broil,  he  had  led  a  military  force.  He  con- 
stantly found  Philip  king  of  France,  the  daughter  of  whose 
aunt  he  had  married,  unfaithful  to  him  ;  because  he  was  en- 
vious of  the  great  glory  of  a  man  who  was  vassal  both  to  his 
father  and  to  himself  But  William  did  not  the  less  actively 
resist  his  attempts,  although  his  first-born  son  Robert, 
through  evil  counsel,  assisted  him  in  opposition  to  his  father. 
Whence  it  happened,  that  in  an  attack  at  Gerborai,  the  son 
became  personally  engaged  with  his  father  ;  wounded  him 
and  killed  his  horse :  William,  the  second  son,  departed  with 
a  hurt  also,  and  many  of  the  king's  party  were  slain.  In  all 
other  respects,  during  the  whole  of  his  life,  he  was  so  fortu- 
nate, that  foreign  and  distant  nations  feared  nothing  more 
than  his  name.  He  had  subdued  the  inhabitants  so  com- 
pletely to  his  will,  that  without  any  opposition,  he  first  caused 
an  account  to  be  taken  of  every  person  ;  compiled  a  register 
of  the  rent  of  every  estate  throughout  England  ;t  and  made 
all  free  men,  of  every  description,  take  the  oath  of  fidelity  to 
him.  Canute,  king  of  the  Danes,  who  was  most  highly  ele- 
vated both  by  his  afiinity  to  Robert  Friso  and  by  his  own 
power,  alone  menaced  his  dignity  ;  a  rumour  being  generally 
prevalent,  that  he  would  invade  England,  a  country  due  to 
him  from  his  relationship  to  the  ancient  Canute  :  and  indeed 
he  would  have  effected  it,  had  not  God  counteracted  his 
boldness  by  an  unfavourable  wind.     But  this  circumstance 

•  "  King  William  now  went  over  sea,  and  led  his  army  to  Brittany,  and 
beset  the  castle  of  Do!  ;  but  the  Bretons  defended  it,  until  the  king  came 
from  France  ;  whereupon  king  William  departed  thence,  having  lost  there 
both  men  and  horses,  and  many  of  his  treasures,  (Sax.  Chron.  a.d.  1 076.) 
This  event  is  more  correctly  attributed  by  Florence  and  others  to  the  pre- 
ceding year." — Hardy. 

t  Domesday  book.  This  invaluable  record,  which  has  been  printed  by 
order  of  the  House  of  Commons,  contains  a  smvey  of  the  kingdom,  noting, 
generally,  for  there  are  some  variations  in  different  counties,  the  proprietors 
and  value  of  lands,  both  at  the  time  of  the  survey  and  during  the  reign  of 
Edward  the  Confessor,  the  quantity  of  arable,  wood,  and  pasture,  &c.  the 
various  kinds  of  tenants  and  slaves  on  each  estate,  and,  in  some  instances, 
the  stock  ;  also  the  number  of  hides  at  which  it  was  rated,  for  the  public 
service,  with  various  other  particulars. 


292  WILLIAM   OF    MM.MESBUIIY.  [b.  irr. 

reminds  me  briefly  to  trace  tlie  genealogy  of  the  Danish 
kings,  who  succeeded  after  our  Canute  ;  adding  at  the  same 
time,  somewhat  concerning  the  Norwegians. 

As  it  has  been  before  observed,  Harold  succeeded  in  Eng- 
land; Hardecanute,  and  his  sons,  in  Denmark:  for  Magnus 
the  son  of  Olave,  whom  I  have  mentioned  in  the  history  of 
our  Canute,  as  having  been  killed  by  his  subjects,  had  re- 
covered Norway,  which  Canute  had  subdued.  Harold  dying 
in  England,  Hardecanute  held  both  kingdoms  for  a  short 
time.  On  his  decease,  Edward  the  Simple  succeeded,  who, 
satisfied  with  his  paternal  kingdom,  despised  his  foreign  domi- 
nions as  burdensome  and  barbarous.  One  Sweyn,  doubt- 
lessly a  most  exalted  character,  was  then  made  king  of  the 
Danes.*  When  his  government  had  prospered  for  several 
years,  Magnus,  king  of  the  Norwegians,  with  the  consent  of 
some  of  the  Danes,  expelled  him  by  force,  and  subjected  the 
land  to  his  own  will.  Sweyn,  thus  expelled,  went  to  the 
king  of  Sweden,  and  collecting,  by  his  assistance,  Swedes, 
Vandals,  and  Goths,  he  returned,  to  regain  the  kingdom: 
but,  through  the  exertions  of  the  Danes,  who  were  attached 
to  the  government  of  Magnus,  he  experienced  a  repetition 
of  his  former  ill-fortune.  This  Avas  a  great  and  memorable 
battle  among  those  barbarous  people:  on  no  other  occasion 
did  the  Danes  ever  experience  severer  conflict,  or  happier 
success.  Indeed,  to  this  very  time,  tliey  keep  unbroken  the 
vow,  by  which  they  had  bound  themselves,  before  the  con- 
test, that  they  would  consecrate  to  future  ages  the  vigil  of 
St.  Lawrence,  for  on  that  day  the  battle  was  fought,  by  fast- 
ing and  alms ;  and  then  also  Sweyn  fled,  but  soon  after,  on 
the  death  of  Magnus,  he  received  his  kingdom  entire. 

To  Magnus,  in  Norway,  succeeded  one  Sweyn,  surnamed 
Hardhand ;  not  elevated  by  royal  descent,  but  by  boldness 
and  cunning  :  to  him  Olave,  the  uncle  of  Magnus,  whom 
they  call  a  saint;  to  Olave,  Harold  Harvagre,  the  brother 
of  Olave,  who  had  formerly,  when  a  young  man,  served 
under  the  emperor  of  Constantinople.  Being,  at  his  com- 
mand, exposed  to  a  lion,  for  having  debauched  a  woman  of 
quahty,  he  strangled  the  huge  beast  by  the  bare  vigour  of 
Ids  arras.     He  was  slain  in  England  by  Harold,  the  son  of 

*  Sweyn  succeeded  to  the  kingdom  of  Denmark  on  the  death  of 
ila^us  in  ]  047. 

A.D.  10C9.]  DENMARK   AND   NORWAY.  293 

Godwin.  His  sons,  Olave  and  Magnus,  divided  the  king- 
dom of  their  father ;  but  Magnus  dying  prematurely,  Olave 
seized  the  whole.  To  him  succeeded  his  son  Magnus,  who 
was  lately  miserably  slain  in  Ireland,  on  which  he  had  rashly 
made  a  descent.  They  relate,  that  Magnus,  the  elder  son  of 
Harold,  was,  after  the  death  of  his  father,  compassionately 
sent  home  by  Harold,  king  of  England ;  and  that  in  return 
for  this  kindness,  he  humanely  treated  Harold,  the  son  of 
Harold,  when  he  came  to  him  after  William's  victory :  tha 
he  took  him  with  him,  in  an  expedition  he  made  to  England, 
in  the  time  of  William  the  younger,  when  he  conquered  the 
Orkney  and  Mevanian  Isles,*  and  meeting  with  Hugo,  earl 
of  Chester,  and  Hugo,  earl  of  Shrewsbury,  put  the  first  to 
flight,  and  the  second  to  death.  The  sons  of  the  last  Mag- 
nus, Hasten  and  Siward,  yet  reign  conjointly,  having  divided 
the  empire:  the  latter,  a  seemly  and  spirited  youth,  shortly 
since  went  to  Jerusalem,  passing  through  England,  and  per- 
formed many  famous  exploits  against  the  Saracens;  more 
especially  in  the  siege  of  Si  don,  whose  inhabitants  raged 
furiously  against  the  Christians  through  their  connection 
with  the  Turks. 

But  Sweyn,  as  I  have  related,  on  his  restoration  to  the 
sovereignty  of  the  Danes,  being  impatient  of  quiet,  sent  his 
son  Canute  twice  into  England ;  first  with  three  hundred, 
and  then  with  two  hundred,  ships.  His  associate  in  the 
former  expedition  was  Osbern,  the  brother  of  Sweyn  ;  in 
the  latter,  Hacco :  but,  being  each  of  them  bribed,  they  frus- 
trated the  young  man's  designs,  and  returned  home  without 
effecting  their  purpose.  In  consequence,  becoming  highly 
disgraced  by  king  Sweyn  for  bartering  their  fidelity  for 
money,  they  were  driven  into  banishment.  Sweyn,  when 
near  his  end,  bound  all  the  inhabitants  by  oath,  that,  as  he 
had  fourteen  sons,  they  should  confer  the  kingdom  on  each 
of  them  in  succession,  as  long  as  his  issue  remained.  On 
his  decease,  his  son  Harold  succeeded  for  three  years  :  to 
him  Canute,  whom  his  father  had  formerly  sent  into  Eng- 
land. Remembering  his  original  failure,  he  prepared,  as  we 
have  heard,  more  than  a  thousand  vessels  against  England : 
his  father-in-law,  Eobert  Friso,  the  possessor  of  six  hundi-ed 
more,  supporting  him.  But  being  detained,  for  almost  two 
*  Man  and  Anglesey. 

294  -mLLIAM   OF   MALMESBURT.  [b.  iii 

years,  bj  tiie  adverseness  of  the  wind,  he  changed  his  de- 
sign, affirming,  that  it  must  be  by  the  determination  of  God, 
that  he  could  not  put  to  sea :  but  afterwards,  misled  by  the 
suggestions  of  some  persons,  who  attributed  the  failure  of 
their  passage  to  the  conjurations  of  certain  old  women,  he 
sentenced  the  chiefs,  whose  wives  were  accused  of  this  trans- 
gression, to  an  intolerable  fine ;  cast  his  brother,  Olave,  the 
principal  of  the  suspected  faction  into  chains,  and  sent  him 
into  exile  to  his  father-in-law.  The  barbarians^  in  conse- 
quence, resenting  this  attack  upon  their  liberty,  killed  him 
while  in  church,  clinging  to  the  altar,  and  promising  repara- 
tion. The}''  say  that  many  miracles  were  shown  from  heaven 
at  that  place;  because  he  Avas  a  man  strictly  observant  of 
fasting  and  almsgiving,  and  pursued  the  transgressors  of  the 
divine  laws  more  rigorously  than  those  who  offended  against 
himself;  from  which  circumstance,  he  was  consecrated  a 
martyr  by  the  pope  of  Rome.  After  him,  the  murderers, 
that  they  might  atone  for  their  crime  by  some  degree  of 
good,  redeemed  Olave  from  captivity,  for  ten  thousand 
marks.  After  ignobly  reigning  during  eight  years,  he  left 
the  government  to  his  brother  Henry :  who  living  virtuously 
for  twenty-nine  years,  went  to  Jerusalem,  and  breathed  his 
last  at  sea.  Nicholas,  the  fifth  in  the  sovereignty,  still 

The  king  of  Denmark  then,  as  I  have  said,  was  the  only 
obstacle  to  William's  uninterrupted  enjoyment :  on  whose 
account  he  enlisted  such  an  immense  multitude  of  stipen- 
diary soldiers  out  of  every  province  on  this  side  the  moun- 
tains, that  their  numbers  oppressed  the  kingdom.  But  he, 
with  his  usual  magnaminity,  not  regarding  the  expense, 
had  engaged  even  Hugo  the  Great,  brother  to  the  king  of 
France,  with  his  bands  to  serve  in  liis  army.  He  was  ac- 
customed to  stimulate  and  incite  his  own  valour,  by  the 
remembrance  of  Robert  Guiscard ;  saying  it  was  disgraceful 
to  yield,  in  courage,  to  him  whom  he  surpassed  in  rank. 
For  Robert,  born  of  middling  parentage  in  Normandy,  that 
is,  neither  very  low  nor  very  high,  had  gone,  a  few  years 
before  William's  arrival  in  England,  with  fifteen  knights, 
into  Apulia,  to  remedy  the  narrowness  of  his  own  circum- 

•  Nicolas  reigned  from  a.d,  1105  to  a.d.  1135,  June  25,  when  he  waa 

A.D.  1085.]  ROBERT    GUISCARD.  295 

stances,  by  entering  into  the  service  of  that  inactive  race  of 
people.  Not  many  years  elapsed,  ere,  by  the  stupendous 
assistance  of  God,  he  reduced  the  whole  country  under  his 
power.  For  where  his  strength  failed,  his  ingenuity  was 
alert :  first  receiving  the  towns,  and  after,  the  cities  into 
confederacy  with  him.  Thus  he  became  so  successful,  as 
to  make  himself  duke  of  Apulia  and  Calabria ;  his  brother 
Richard,  prince  of  Capua;  and  his  other  brother,  Roger, 
earl  of  Sicily.  At  last,  giving  Apulia  to  his  son  Roger,  he 
crossed  the  Adriatic  with  his  other  son  Boamund,  and  taking 
Durazzo,  was  immediately  proceeding  against  Alexius,  em- 
peror of  Constantinople,  when  a  messenger  from  pope  Hilde- 
brand  stopped  him  in  the  heat  of  his  career.  For  Henry, 
emperor  of  Germany,  son  of  that  Henry  we  have  before 
mentioned,  being  incensed  against  the  pope,  for  having  ex- 
communicated him  on  account  of  the  ecclesiastical  investi- 
tures, led  an  army  against  Rome  ;  besieged  it ;  expelled 
Hildebrand,  and  introduced  Guibert  of  Ravenna.  Guiscard 
learning  this  by  the  letter  of  the  expelled  pope,  left  his  son 
Boamund,  with  the  army,  to  follow  up  his  designs,  and 
returned  to  Apulia;  where  quickly  getting  together  a  body 
of  Apulians  and  Normans,  he  proceeded  to  Rome.  Nor  did 
Henry  wait  for  a  messenger  to  announce  his  approach ;  but, 
affrighted  at  the  bare  report,  fled  with  his  pretended  pope. 
Rome,  freed  from  intruders,  received  its  lawful  sovereign ; 
but  soon  after  again  lost  him  by  similar  violence.  Then  too, 
Alexius,  learning  that  Robert  was  called  home  by  the  ur- 
gency of  his  affairs,  and  hoping  to  put  a  finishing  hand  to 
the  war,  rushed  against  Boamund,  who  commanded  the 
troops  wliich  had  been  left.  The  Norman  youth,  however, 
observant  of  his  native  spirit,  though  far  inferior  in  number, 
turned  to  flight,  by  dint  of  military  skill,  the  undisciplined 
Greeks  and  the  other  collected  nations.  At  the  same  time, 
too,  the  Venetians,  a  people  habituated  to  the  sea,  attacking 
Guiscard,  who  having  settled  the  object  of  his  voyage  was 
now  sailing  back,  met  with  a  similar  calamity  :  part  were 
drowned  or  killed,  the  rest  put  to  flight.  He,  continuing 
his  intended  expedition,  induced  many  cities,  subject  to 
Alexius,  to  second  his  views.  The  emperor  took  off,  by 
crime,  the  man  he  was  unable  to  subdue  by  arms:  falsely 
promising  his  wife  an  imperial  match.     By  her  artifices,  he 

296  WILLIAM   OF    BIALMESBURT.  [b.  iii- 

drank  poison,*  which  she  had  prepared,  and  died ;  deserving, 
had  God  so  pleased,  a  nobler  death :  for  he  was  unconquer- 
able by  the  sword  of  an  enemy,  but  fell  a  victim  to  domestic 
treachery.  He  was  buried  at  Venusium  in  Apuha,  having 
the  following  epitaph : 

Here  Guiscard  lies,  the  terror  of  the  world, 
Who  from  the  Capitol  Rome's  sovereign  hurl'd. 
No  band  collected  could  Alexis  free, 
Flight  only  ;  Venice,  neither  flight  nor  sea. 

And  since  mention  has  been  made  of  Hildebrand,  I  shall  re- 
late some  anecdotes  of  him,  which  I  have  not  heard  trivially, 
but  from  the  sober  relation  of  a  person  who  would  swear 
that  he  had  learned  them  from  the  mouth  of  Hugo  abbat  of 
Clugny ;  whom  I  admire  and  commend  to  notice,  from  the 
consideration,  that  he  used  to  declare  the  secret  thoughts  of 
others  by  the  prophetic  intuition  of  his  mind.  Pope  Alex- 
ander, seeing  the  energetic  bent  of  his  disposition,  had  made 
him  chancellor  f  of  the  holy  see.  In  consequence,  by  virtue 
of  his  office,  he  used  to  go  through  the  provinces  to  correct 
abuses.  All  ranks  of  people  flocked  to  him,  requiring  judg- 
ment on  various  affairs;  all  secular  power  was  subject  to 
him,  as  well  out  of  regard  to  his  sanctity  as  his  office. 
Whence  it  happened,  one  day,  when  there  was  a  greater  con- 
course on  horseback  than  usual,  that  the  abbat  aforesaid, 
with  his  monks,  was  gently  proceeding  in  the  last  rank ;  and 
beholding  at  a  distance  the  distinguished  honour  of  this 
man,  that  so  many  earthly  rulers  awaited  his  nod,  he  was 
revolving  in  his  mind  sentiments  to  the  following  effect: 
"  By  what  dispensation  of  God  was  this  fellow,  of  diminu- 
tive stature  and  obscure  parentage,  surrounded  by  a  retinue 
of  so  many  rich  men  ?  Doubtless,  from  having  such  a  crowd 
of  attendants,  he  was  vain-glorious,  and  conceived  loftier  no- 
tions than  were  becoming."  Scarcely,  as  I  have  said,  had 
he  imagined  this  in  his  heart,  when  the  archdeacon,  turning 
back  his  horse,  and  spurring  him,  cried  out  from  a  distance, 
beckoning  the  abbat,  "  You,"  said  he,  "  you  have  imagined 
falsely,  wrongly  deeming  me  guilty  of  a  thing  of  which  I  am 
innocent  altogether;  for  I  neither  impute  this  as  glory  to 

*  "Hoveden,  who   follows   Malmesburv,  adds   that   Alexius  married, 
crowned,  and  then  burnt  alive  his  female  accomplice." — Hardy. 
t  Archdeacon,  and  afterwards  chancellor.     Baronius,  x.  289, 

AD- 1085.]  OF  POPE  GREGORY  VII.  297 

myself,  if  glory  that  can  be  called  which  vanishes  quickly, 
nor  do  I  wish  it  to  be  so  imputed  by  others,  but  to  the 
blessed  apostles,  to  whose  servant  it  is  exhibited."  Redden- 
ing with  shame,  and  not  daring  to  deny  a  tittle,  he  replied 
only,  "  My  lord,  I  pray  thee,  how  couldst  thou  know  the 
secret  thought  of  my  heart  which  I  have  communicated  to 
no  one?"  "All  that  inward  sentiment  of  yours,"  said  he, 
"  was  brought  from  your  mouth  to  my  ears,  as  though  by 
a  pipe." 

Again,  entering  a  country  church,  in  the  same  province, 
they  prostrated  themselves  before  the  altar,  side  by  side. 
When  they  had  continued  their  supplications  for  a  long 
period,  the  archdeacon  looked  on  the  abbat  with  an  angry 
countenance.  After  they  had  prayed  some  time  longer,  he 
went  out,  and  asking  the  reason  of  his  displeasure,  received 
this  answer,  "  If  you  love  me,  do  not  again  attack  me  with 
an  injury  of  this  kind  ;  my  Lord  Jesus  Christ,  beautiful 
beyond  the  sons  of  men,  was  visibly  present  to  my  entreaties, 
listening  to  what  I  said  and  kindly  looking  assent ;  but,  at- 
tracted by  the  earnestness  of  your  prayer,  he  left  me  and 
turned  to  you.  I  think  you  will  not  deny  it  to  be  a  species 
of  injury  to  take  from  a  friend  the  author  of  his  salvation. 
Moreover,  you  are  to  know  that  mortality  of  mankind  and 
destruction  hang  over  this  place  ;  and  the  token  by  which  I 
formed  such  a  conclusion  was  my  seeing  the  angel  of  the 
Lord  standing  upon  the  altar  with  a  naked  sword,  and  wav- 
ing it  to  and  fro  :  I  possess  a  more  manifest  proof  of  the 
impending  ruin,  from  the  thick,  cloudy  air  which,  as  you  see, 
already  envelopes  that  province.  Let  us  make  haste  to 
escape,  then,  lest  we  perish  with  the  rest."  Having  said 
this,  they  entered  an  inn  for  refreshment ;  but,  as  scon  as 
food  was  placed  before  them,  the  lamentations  of  the  house- 
hold took  away  their  famished  appetites  :  for  first  one,  and 
then  another,  and  presently  many  of  the  family  suddenly 
lost  their  lives  by  some  unseen  disaster.  The  contagion 
then  spreading  to  the  adjoining  houses,  they  mounted  their 
mules,  and  departed,  fear  adding  wings  to  their  flight. 

Hildebrand  had  presided  for  the  pope  at  a  council  in  Gaul, 
where  many  bishops  being  degraded,  for  having  formerly 
acquired  their  churches  by  simony,  gave  place  to  better  men. 
There  was  one,   to  whom  a  suspicion  of  this  apostacy  at- 

298  WILLIAM  OF  MALMESBURY.  a.  m. 

taclied,  but  he  could  neither  be  convicted  by  any  witnesses, 
nor  confuted  by  any  argument.  When  it  was  supposed  he 
must  be  completely  foiled,  still  like  the  slippery  snake  he 
eluded  detection  ,•  so  skilled  was  he  in  speaking,  that  he  baf- 
fled all.  Then  said  the  archdeacon,  "  Let  the  oracle  of  God 
be  resorted  to,  let  man's  eloquence  cease ;  we  know  for  certain 
that  episcopal  grace  is  the  gift  of  the  Holy  Spirit,  and  that 
whosoever  purchases  a  bishopric,  supposes  the  gift  of  the 
Holy  Ghost  may  be  procured  by  money.  Before  you  then, 
who  are  assembled  by  the  will  of  the  Holy  Ghost,  let  him 
say,  *  Glory  be  to  the  Father,  and  to  the  Son,  and  to  the 
Holy  Ghost,'  and  if  he  shall  speak  it  articulately,  and  with- 
out hesitation,  it  will  be  manifest  to  me  that  he  has  obtained 
his  office,  not  by  purchase,  but  legally."  He  willingly  ac- 
cepted the  condition,  supposing  nothing  less  than  any  diffi- 
culty in  these  words;  and  indeed  he  perfectly  uttered, 
"  Glory  be  to  the  Father,  and  to  the  Son,"  but  he  hesitated 
at  the  "  Holy  Ghost."  A  clamour  arose  on  all  sides,  but  he 
was  never  able,  by  any  exertion,  either  at  that  time  or  for 
the  remainder  of  his  life,  to  name  the  Holy  Spirit.  The 
abbat  so  often  mentioned  was  a  witness  of  this  miracle ;  who 
taking  the  deprived  bishop  with  him  into  different  places, 
often  laughed  at  the  issue  of  the  experiment.  Any  person 
doubting  the  certainty  of  this  relation,  must  be  confuted  by 
all  Europe,  which  is  aware  that  the  numbers  of  the  Clugniac 
order  were  increased  by  this  abbat. 

On  the  death  of  Alexander,  therefore,  Hildebrand,  called 
Gregory  the  Seventh,  succeeded.*  He  openly  asserted  what 
others  had  whispered,  excommunicating  those  persons  who, 
having  been  elected,  should  receive  the  investiture |  of  their 
churches,  by  the  ring  and  staff,  through  the  hands  of  the 
laity.  On  this  account  Henry,  emperor  of  Germany,  being 
incensed  that  he  should  so  far  presume  without  his  concur- 
rence, expelled  him  from  Rome,  as  I  observed,  after  the  ex- 
piration of  eleven  years,  and  brought  in  Guibert.  Not  long 
after,  the  pope,  being  seized  with  that  fatal  disease  which  he 
had  no  doubt  would  be  mortal,  was  requested  by  the  cardinals 

•  He  was  elected  pope  the  22nd  of  April,  1073,  and  died  25th  May, 
1085.— Hardy. 

•[■  Investiture  was  a  symbolical  mode  of  receiving  possession  of  a  bene- 
fice, diguity,  or  office. 

A.D.  1085.-)  DESIDERIUS VICTOR ODO.  299 

to  appoint  his  successor ;  referring  him  to  the  example  of  St. 
Peter,  who,  in  the  church's  earliest  infancy,  had,  while  yet 
living,  nominated  Clement.  He  refused  to  follow  this  ex- 
ample, because  it  had  anciently  been  forbidden  by  councils  : 
he  would  advise,  however,  that  if  they  wished  a  person  power- 
ful in  worldly  matters,  they  should  choose  Desiderius,  abbat 
of  Cassino,  who  would  quell  the  violence  of  Guibert  success- 
fully and  opportunely  by  a  military  force ;  but  if  they  wanted  a 
religious  and  eloquent  man,  they  should  elect  Odo  bishop  of  Os- 
tia.  Thus  died  a  man,  highly  acceptable  to  God,  though  perhaps 
rather  too  austere  towards  men.  Indeed  it  is  affirmed,  that  in 
the  beginning  of  the  first  commotion  between  him  and  the  em- 
peror, he  would  not  admit  him  within  his  doors,  though  bare- 
footed, and  carrying  shears*  and  scourges,  despising  a  man 
guilty  of  sacrilege,  and  of  incest  mth  his  own  sister.  The 
emperor,  thus  excluded,  departed,  vowing  that  this  repulse 
should  be  the  death  of  many  a  man.  And  immediately  do- 
ing all  the  injury  he  was  able  to  the  Roman  see,  he  excited 
thereby  the  favourers  of  the  pope,  on  every  side,  to  throw  off 
their  allegiance  to  himself;  for  one  Rodulph,  revolting  at  the 
command  of  the  pope,  who  had  sent  him  a  crown  in  the 
name  of  the  apostles,  he  was  immersed  on  all  sides  in  the 
tumult  of  war.  But  Henry,  ever  superior  to  ill  fortune,  at 
length  subdued  him  and  all  others  faithlessly  rebelling.  At 
last,  driven  from  his  power,  not  by  a  foreign  attack,  but  the 
domestic  hatred  of  his  son,  he  died  miserably.  To  Hilde- 
brand  succeeded  Desiderius,  called  Victor,  who  at  his  first 
mass  fell  down  dead,  though  from  what  mischance  is  un- 
known ;  the  cup,  if  it  be  possible  to  credit  such  a  thing,  be- 
ing poisoned.  The  election  then  fell  upon  Odo,  a  French- 
man by  birth,  first  archdeacon  of  Rheims,  then  prior  of 
Clugny,  afterwards  bishop  of  Ostia,  lastly  pope  by  the  name 
of  Urban. 

Thus  far  I  shall  be  pardoned,  for  having  digressed,  as 
from  the  mention  of  William's  transactions,  some  things 
occurred  which  I  thought  it  improper  to  omit :  now,  the 

•  This  seems  intended  to  denote  his  absolute  submission,  and  willingness 
to  undergo  anj^  kind  of  penance  which  might  be  enjoined  upon  him.  Some- 
times excommunicated  persons  wore  a  halter  about  their  necks  ;  sometimes 
they  were  shorn  or  scourged  prior  to  receiving  absolution.  Vide  Basnage, 
pref.  in  Canisium,  p.  69,  70. 

300  WILLIAM   OF    MALMESBUHr.  [am. 

reader,  who  is  so  inclined,  shall  learn  the  more  common 
habits  of  his  life,  and  his  domestic  manners.  Above  all 
then,  he  was  humble  to  the  servants  of  God  ;  affable  to  the 
obedient ;  inexorable  to  the  rebellious.  He  attended  the 
offices  of  the  Christian  religion,  as  much  as  a  secular  was 
able ;  so  that  he  daily  was  present  at  mass,  and  heard 
vespers  and  matins.  He  built  one  monastery  in  England, 
and  another  in  Normandy  ;  that  at  Caen  *  first,  which  he 
dedicated  to  St.  Stephen,  and  endowed  with  suitable  estates, 
and  most  magnificent  presents.  There  he  appointed  Lan- 
franc,  afterwards  archbishop  of  Canterbury,  abbat :  a  man 
worthy  to  be  compared  to  the  ancients,  in  knowledge,  and  in 
rehgion  :  of  whom  it  may  be  truly  said,  "  Cato  the  third  is 
descended  from  heaven  ; "  so  much  had  an  heavenly  savour 
tinctured  his  heart  and  tongue  ;  so  much  was  the  whole 
Western  world  excited  to  the  knowledge  of  the  liberal  arts, 
by  his  learning ;  and  so  earnestly  did  the  monastic  profession 
labour  in  the  work  of  religion,  either  from  his  example,  or 
authority.  No  sinister  means  profited  a  bishop  in  those 
days  ;  nor  could  an  abbat  procure  advancement  by  purchase. 
He  who  had  the  best  report  for  undeviating  sanctity,  was 
most  honoured,  and  most  esteemed  both  by  the  king  and  by 
the  archbishop.  William  built  another  monastery  near 
Hastings,  dedicated  to  St.  Martin,  which  was  also  called 
Battle,  because  there  the  principal  church  stands  on  the  very 
spot,  where,  as  they  report,  Harold  was  found  in  the  thickest 
heaps  of  the  slain.  When  little  more  than  a  boy,  yet  gifted 
with  the  wisdom  of  age,  he  removed  his  uncle  Malger,  from 
the  archbishopric  of  Rouen.  He  was  a  man  not  ordinarily 
learned,  but,  through  his  high  rank,  forgetful  of  his  pro- 
fession, he  gave  too  much  attention  to  hunting  and  hawking ; 
and  consumed  the  treasures  of  the  church  in  riotous  living. 
The  fame  of  this  getting  abroad,  he  never,  during  his  whole 
Hfe-time,  obtained  the  pall,  because  the  holy  see  refused  the 
distinction  of  that  honour,  to  a  man  who  neglected  his 
sacred  office.     Wherefore  being  frequently  cited,  his  nephew 

*  "  The  abbey  of  St.  Stephen's,  Caen,  is  stated  to  have  been  completed 
in  1064,  but  when  it  was  dedicated  is  not  accurately  known  :  some  fix  the 
dedication  in  1073,  others  in  1081,  and  Orderic  in  1077.  There  was, 
however,  a  foundation  charter  granted  subsequently  to  1066,  for  in  it 
William  styles  himself  long." — Hardy. 

A.  D.  1085.]  MAURILIUS   RETURNS    FROM    THE    DEAD.  301 

reprehending  his  offences,  and  still  conducting  himself  in 
the  same  manner,  he  was,  from  the  urgency  of  the  case, 
ultimately  degraded.  Some  report  that  there  was  a  secret 
reason  for  his  being  deprived  :  that  Matilda,  whom  William 
had  married,  was  very  nearly  related  to  him  :  that  Malger, 
in  consequence,  through  zeal  for  the  Christian  foith,  could 
not  endure  that  they  should  riot  in  the  bed  of  consanguinity ; 
and  that  he  hurled  the  weapon  of  excommunication  against 
his  nephew,  and  his  consort :  that,  when  the  anger  of  the 
young  man  was  roused  by  the  complaints  of  his  wife,  an 
occasion  was  sought  out,  through  which  the  persecutor  of 
their  crime  might  be  driven  from  his  see :  bat  that 
afterwards,  in  riper  years,  for  the  expiation  of  their  offence, 
he  built  the  monastery  to  St.  Stephen  at  Caen  ;  and  she  also 
one,  in  the  same  town,  to  the  Holy  Trinity  ;  *  each  of  them 
choosing  the  inmates  according  to  their  own  sex. 

To  Malger  succeeded  Maurilius  of  Feschamp  ;  a  monk 
commendable  for  many  virtues,  but  principally  for  his 
abstinence.  After  a  holy  and  well-spent  life,  when  he 
came,  by  the  call  of  God,  to  his  end,  bereft  of  vital  breath, 
he  lay,  as  it  were,  dead  for  almost  half  a  day.  Nevertheless, 
when  preparation  was  made  to  carry  liim  into  the  church, 
recovering  his  breath,  he  bathed  the  by-standers  in  tears  of 
joy,  and  comforted  them,  when  lost  in  amazement,  with  this 
address:  "Let  your  minds  be  attentive  while  you  hear, the 
last  words  of  your  pastor.  I  have  died  a  natural  death,  but 
I  am  come  back,  to  relate  to  you  what  I  have  seen ;  yet  shall 
I  not  continue  with  you  long,  because  it  delights  me  to  sleep 
in  the  Lord.  The  conductors  of  my  spirit  were  adorned  with 
every  elegance  both  of  countenance  and  attire  ;  the  gentleness 
of  their  speech  accorded  with  the  splendour  of  their  garments; 
so  much  so,  that  I  could  wish  for  nothing  more  than  the 
attentions  of  such  men.  Delighted  therefore  with  their 
soothing  approbation,  I  went,  as  it  appeared  to  me,  towards 
the  east.  A  seat  in  paradise  Avas  promised  me,  which  I  was 
shortly  to  enter.     In  a  moment,  passing  over  Europe  and 

*  "The  convent  of  the  Holy  Trinity  was  founded  by  Matilda  1066^  and 
its  church  dedicated  on  the  18th  of  June  in  that  year.  Duke  William  on 
the  same  day,  presenting  at  the  altar  his  infant  daughter  Cecilia,  devoted 
her  to  the  service  of  God  in  this  monastery,  where  she  became  the  second 
abbess." — Hardy. 

302  WILLIAM  OF   MALMESBURT,  [b.  m. 

entering  Asia,  we  came  to  Jerusalem ;  where,  having 
worshipped  the  saints,  we  proceeded  to  Jordan.  The 
residents  on  the  hither  bank  joining  company  with  my 
conductors,  made  a  joyful  party.  I  was  now  hastening  to  pass 
over  the  river,  through  longing  desire  to  see  what  was 
beyond  it,  Avhen  my  companions  informed  me,  that  God  had 
commanded,  that  I  must  first  be  terrified  by  the  sight  of  the 
demons  ;  in  order  that  the  venial  sins,  which  I  had  not 
wiped  out  by  confession,  might  be  expiated,  by  the  dread  of 
terrific  forms.  As  soon  as  this  was  said,  there  came  opposite 
to  me,  such  a  multitude  of  devils,  brandishing  pointed 
weapons,  and  breathing  out  fire,  that  the  plain  appeared  like 
steel,  and  the  air  like  flame.  I  was  so  dreadfully  alarmed  at 
them,  that  had  the  earth  clave  asunder,  or  the  heaven 
opened,  I  should  not  have  known  whither  to  have  betaken 
myself  for  safety.  Thus  panic-struck,  and  doubting  whither 
to  go,  I  suddenly  recovered  my  life,  though  instantaneously 
about  to  lose  it  again,  that  by  this  relation  I  might  be 
serviceable  to  your  salvation,  unless  you  neglect  it : "  and 
almost  as  soon  as  he  had  so  said,  he  breathed  out  his  soul. 
His  body,  then  buried  under  ground,  in  the  church  of  St. 
Mary,  is  now,  by  divine  miracle,  as  they  report,  raised  up 
more  than  three  feet  above  the  earth. 

Moreover,  William,  following  up  the  design  he  had 
formerly  begun  in  Normandy,  permitted  Stigand,  the 
pretended  and  false  archbishop,  to  be  deposed  by  the  Roman 
cardinals  and  by  Ermenfred  bishop  of  Sion.  Walkelin 
succeeded  him  at  Winchester,  whose  good  works,  surpassing 
fame,  will  resist  the  power  of  oblivion,  as  long  as  the 
episcopal  see  shall  there  continue :  in  Kent  succeeded 
Lanfranc,  of  Avhom  I  have  before  spoken,  who  was,  by  the 
gift  of  God,  as  resplendent  in  England, 

As  Lucifer,  who  bids  the  stars  retire, 
Day's  rosy  harbinger  with  purple  fire  ; 

SO  much  did  the  monastic  germ  sprout  by  his  care,  so 
strongly  grew  the  pontifical  power  while  he  survived.  The 
king  Avas  observant  of  his  advice  in  such  A^ise,  that  he 
deemed  it  proper  to  concede  whatever  Lanfranc  asserted 
ought  to  be  done.  At  his  instigation  also  was  abolished  the 
infamous  custom  of  those  ill-disposed  people  who  used  to  sell 
their  slaves  into  Ireland.     The  credit  of  this  action,  I  know 

A.D.1080.  BISHOP   WALKER   MURDERED.  303 

not  exactly  whether  to  attribute  to  Lanfranc,  or  to  Wulstan 
bishop  of  Worcester  ;  who  would  scarcely  have  induced  the 
king,  reluctant  from  the  profit  it  produced  him,  to  this 
measure,  had  not  Lanfranc  commended  it,  and  Wulstan, 
powerful  from  his  sanctity  of  character,  commanded  it  by 
episcopal  authority  :  Wulstan,  than  whom  none  could  be 
more  just ;  nor  could  any  in  our  time  equal  him  in  the  power 
of  miracles,  or  the  gift  of  prophecy  :  of  which  I  propose 
hereafter  to  relate  some  particulars,  should  it  meet  his  most 
holy  approbation. 

But  since  the  die  of  fortune  is  subject  to  uncertain  casts, 
many  adverse  circumstances  happened  during  those  times. 
There  was  a  disgraceful  contention*  between  the  abbat  of 
Glastonbury  and  his  monks ;  so  that  after  altercation  they 
came  to  blows.  The  monks  being  driven  into  the  church, 
bewailed  their  miseries  at  the  holy  altar.  The  soldiers,  rush- 
ing in,  slew  two  of  them,  wounded  fourteen,  and  drove  away 
the  rest.  Nay  the  rage  of  the  military  had  even  bristled 
the  crucifix  with  arrows.  The  abbat,  rendered  infamous  by 
such  a  criminal  outrage,  was  driven  into  exile  during  the 
whole  of  the  king's  life ;  but,  upon  his  decease,  he  was  re- 
stored to  his  honours,  a  sum  of  money  being  paid  to  such  as 
interceded  for  him,  for  the  expiation  of  his  transgression. 

Again,  a  cruel  and  ignominious  end  overtook  Walker 
bishop  of  Durham,  whom  the  Northumbrians,  a  people  ever 
ripe  for  rebellion,  throwing  off  all  respect  for  his  holy  orders, 
put  to  death,  after  having  severely  insulted  him.  A  consi- 
derable number  of  Lorrainers  were  killed  there  also,  for  the 
bishop  was  of  that  country.  The  cause  of  the  murder  was 
this.  The  bishop,  independently  of  his  see,  was  warder  f  of 
the  whole  county :  over  public  business  he  had  set  his  rela- 
tion Gilbert,  and  over  domestic,  the  canon  Leobin  ;  both  men 
of  diligence  in  their  respective  employments,  but  rash.  The 
bishop  endured  their  want  of  moderation  in  this  respect,  out 
of  regard  to  their  activity ;  and,  as  he  had  placed  them  in  ofl5ce, 

*  "This  disgraceful  contention  happened  in  the  year  1083.  It  seems  to 
have  arisen  from  the  abbat  (Thurstan)  attempting  to  introduce  a  new  chant, 
brought  from  Feschamp,  instead  of  the  Gregojian,  to  which  the  monks  had 
been  accustomed." — Hardy. 

+  Bracton  says  (lib.  ii.  c.  8,  sec.  4),  that  the  bishop  of  Durham  had  as 
full  power  in  the  county  of  Durham  as  the  king  in  his  own  palace.  The 
privileges  of  the  see  of  Durham  trace  back  to  the  time  of  St.  Cuthbert. 

304  WILLIAM   OF   MALMESBURY.  [b.  in. 

treated  them  with  great  kindness.  "For  our  nature  ever 
indulges  itself,  and  favourably  regards  its  own  kind  works." 
This  Leobin  caused  Liwulph,  a  servant  so  dearly  beloved  by 
St.  Cuthbert  that  the  saint  himself  used  to  appear  to  him, 
even  when  waking,  and  prescribe  his  decisions ;  him,  I  say, 
he  caused  to  bo  killed  by  Gilbert ;  smitten  with  envy  at  his 
holding  the  higher  place  in  the  prelate's  esteem  for  his  know- 
ledge and  equity  in  legal  determinations.  Walker,  terrified 
with  this  intelligence,  offered  the  furious  family  of  the  de- 
ceased the  result  of  a  legal  inquiry,*  affirming  that  Leobin 
would  be  the  cause  of  his  death  and  of  that  of  his  friends. 
When  the  matter  came  to  a  trial,  this  ferocious  race  of  peo- 
ple were  not  to  be  soothed  by  reasons  of  any  kind ;  on  the 
contrary,  they  threw  the  whole  blame  on  the  bishop,  because 
they  had  seen  both  the  murderers  familiarly  entertained  in 
his  court  after  the  death  of  LiwuliDh.  Hence  arose  clamour 
and  indignation,  and  Gilbert,  as  he  was  of  his  own  accord, 
going  out  of  the  church,  where  he  had  been  sitting  with  the 
bishop,  that  he  might,  at  his  personal  peril,  save  the  life  of 
his  master,  was  impiously  slain.  The  bishop,  while  making 
overtures  of  peace  before  the  gates,  next  glutted  the  rage  of 
the  people  with  his  blood ;  the  fomenter  of  the  crime,  too, 
Leobin,  was  half-burnt,  as  he  would  not  quit  the  church  till 
it  was  set  on  fire,  and  when  he  rushed  out  he  was  received 
on  a  thousand  spears.  This  had  been  predicted  by  Edgitha, 
relict  of  king  Edward ;  for  when  she  had  formerly  seen 
Walker,  with  his  milk-white  hair,  rosy  countenance,  and  ex- 
traordinary stature,  conducted  to  Winchester  to  be  conse- 
crated ;  "  We  have  here,"  said  she,  "  a  noble  martyr :"  being 
led  to  form  such  a  presage  by  reflecting  on  the  muti- 
nous disposition  of  that  people.  To  him  succeeded  William, 
abbat  of  St.  Carilef,  who  established  monks  at  Durham. 

Moreover,  the  year  before  the  king's  death,  there  was  a 
mortality  both  among  men  and  cattle,  and  severe  tempests, 
accompanied  with  such  thunder  and  lightning,  as  no  person 
before  had  ever  seen  or  heard.  And  in  the  year  he  died,  a 
contagious  fever  destroyed  more  than  half  the  people;  in- 
deed the  attack  of  the  disease  killed  many,  and  then,  from 
the  unseasonableness  of  the  weather,  a  famine  following,  it 

*  Walker  offered  to  purge  himself  by  oath  from  all  participation  in  the 
murder.     See  Flor.  Wig.  a.t>.  1080. 

A.D.  1083.]  OF  KING  WTLLIAm's  CHILDREN.  305 

spread  universally  and  cut  off  those  whom  the  fever  had 

In  addition  to  his  other  virtues  he,  more  especially  in  early 
youth,  was  observant  of  chastity ;  insomuch  that  it  was  very 
commonly  reported  that  he  was  impotent.  Marrying,  how- 
ever, at  the  recommendation  of  the  nobility,  he  conducted 
himself,  during  many  years,  in  such  wise,  as  never  to  be  sus- 
pected of  any  criminal  intercourse.  He  had  many  children 
by  Matilda,  whose  obedience  to  her  husband  and  fruitfulness 
in  cliildren  excited  in  liis  mind  the  tenderest  regard  for  her, 
although  there  are  not  wanting  persons  who  prate  about  his 
having  renounced  his  former  chastity ;  and  that,  after  he  had 
acceded  to  the  royal  dignity,  he  was  connected  with  the 
daughter  of  a  certain  priest,  whom  the  queen  caused  to  be 
removed,  by  being  hamstrung  by  one  of  her  servants  ;  on 
which  account  he  was  exiled,  and  Matilda  was  scourged  to 
death  with  a  bridle.  But  I  esteem  it  folly  to  believe  this  of 
so  great  a  king  ;  though  I  decidedly  assert  that  a  slight  dis- 
agreement arose  between  them,  in  latter  times,  on  account  of 
their  son  Robert,  whom  his  mother  was  said  to  supply  with 
a  military  force  out  of  her  revenues.  Nevertheless,  he 
proved  that  his  conjugal  affection  was  not  in  the  least  dimi- 
nished by  this  circumstance,  as  he  buried  her  with  great 
magnificence,  on  her  death,  four  years  before  his  own ;  and 
weeping  most  profusely  for  many  days  showed  how  keenly 
he  felt  her  loss :  moreover,  from  that  time,  if  we  give  credit 
to  report,  he  refrained  from  every  gratification.  The  queen* 
was  buried  at  Caen,  in  the  monastery  of  the  Holy  Trinity. 
The  same  proof  of  regard  was  evident  in  the  care  he  took 
of  the  funeral  of  queen  Edgitha ;  who,  placed  by  his  atteuT 
tion  near  her  husband  at  Westminster,  has  a  tomb  riclily 
wrought  with  gold  and  silver. 

His  sons  were  Robert,  Richard,  William,  and  Henry, 
The  two  last  reigned  after  him  successively  in  England : 
Robert,  irritated  that  Normandy  was  refused  him  during  his 
father's  life-time,  went  indignantly  to  Italy,  that  by  marry- 
ing the  daughter  of  Boniface  the  marquis,  he  might  procure 

•  "  Matilda  died  2nd  Nov.  1083.  She  bequeathed  to  this  monastery  her 
crown,  sceptre,  and  ornaments  of  state.  A  copy  ,of  her  will  may  be  seen 
in  the  Essais  Historiques,  by  the  Abbe  de  la  Rue,  torn.  ii.  p.  437."-^ 

306  WILLIAM  OP  MALMESBURT.  Lb.  rrr. 

assistance  in  those  parts,  to  oppose  the  king  :  but  failing  of 
this  connexion,  he  excited  Philip  king  of  France  against  his 
father.  Wherefore,  disappointed  of  his  paternal  blessing 
and  inheritance,  at  his  death,  he  missed  England,  retaining 
with  difficulty  the  duchy  of  Normandy :  and  pawning  even 
this,  at  the  expiration  of  nine  years,  to  his  brother  William, 
he  joined  the  expedition  into  Asia,  with  the  other  Christians. 
From  thence,  at  the  end  of  four  years,  he  returned  with 
credit  for  his  miUtary  exploits  ;  and  without  difficulty  sat 
himself  down  in  Normandy,  because  his  brother  William  be- 
ing recently  dead,  king  Henry,  unsettled  on  account  of  his 
fresh-acquired  power,  deemed  it  enough  to  retain  England 
under  his  command  :  but  as  I  must  speak  of  this  in  another 
place,  I  will  here  pursue  the  relation  I  had  begun  concerning 
the  sons  of  William  the  Great. 

Richard  affi3rded  his  noble  father  hopes  of  his  future 
greatness ;  a  fine  youth  and  of  aspiring  disposition,  consider- 
ing his  age :  but  an  untimely  death  quickly  withered  the  bud 
of  this  promising  flower.  They  relate  that  while  hunting 
deer  in  the  New-forest,  he  contracted  a  disorder  from  a 
stream  of  infected  air.  This  is  the  place  which  William  his 
father,  desolating  the  towns  and  destroying  the  churches  for 
more  than  thirty  miles,  had  appropriated  for  the  nurture  and 
refuge  of  wild  beasts;*  a  dreadful  spectacle,  indeed,  that 
where  before  had  existed  human  intercourse  and  the  worship 
of  God,  there  deer,  and  goats,  and  other  animals  of  that 
kind,  should  now  range  unrestrained,  and  these  not  subjected 
to  the  general  service  of  mankind.  Hence  it  is  truly 
asserted  that,  in  this  very  forest,  William  his  son,  and  his 
grandson  Richard,  son  of  Robert,  earl  of  Normandy,  by  the 
severe  judgment  of  God,  met  their  deaths,  one  by  a  wound 
in  the  breast  by  an  arrow,  the  other  by  a  wound  in  the  neck, 
or  as  some  say,  from  being  suspended  by  the  jaws  on  the 
branch  of  a  tree,  as  his  horse  passed  beneath  it. 

His  daughters  were  five;  first,  Cecilia,  abbess  of  Caen, 
who  still  survives :  the  second,  Constantia,  married  to  Alan 

•  Some  MSS.  omit  from  "a  dreadful  spectacle,"  to  the  end  of  the  paragraph, 
and  substitute  thus,  "  Here  he  willingly  passed  his  time,  here  he  delighted  to 
follow  the  chase,  I  will  not  say  for  days  but  even  months  together.  Here, 
too,  man}  accidents  befell  the  royal  race,  which  the  recent  recollection  of 
the  inhabitants  supplies  to  inquirers." 

A.  D.  1087.1.  DAUGHTERS   OF   WILLIAM  I.  307 

Fergant,  earl  of  Brittany,  excited  the  inhabitants,  by  the 
severity  of  her  justice,  to  administer  a  poisonous  potion  to 
her :  the  third,  Adela,  the  wife  of  Stephen,  earl  of  Blois,  a 
lady  celebrated  for  secular  industry,  lately  took  the  veil  at 
Marcigny.  The  names  of  the  two  others  have  escaped  me.  * 
One  of  these,  as  we  have  said,  was  betrothed  to  Harold,  and 
died  ere  she  was  marriageable :  the  other  was  affianced,  by 
messengers,  to  Alphonso,  king  of  Gallicia,  but  obtained, 
from  God,  a  virgin  death.  A  hard  substance,  which  proved 
the  frequency  of  her  prayers,  was  found  upon  her  knees  after 
her  decease. 

Honouring  the  memory  of  his  father,  by  every  practicable 
method,  in  the  latter  part  of  his  life,  he  caused  his  bones, 
formerly  interred  at  Nicea,  to  be  taken  up  by  means  of  a 
person  sent  for  that  purpose,  in  order  to  convey  them  else- 
where; who,  successfully  returning,  stopped  in  Apulia,  on 
hearing  of  the  death  of  WiUiam,  and  there  buried  this  illus- 
trious man's  remains.  He  treated  liis  mother,  who,  before 
the  death  of  his  father,  had  married  one  Herlewin  de  Conte- 
ville,  a  man  of  moderate  wealth,  with  singular  indulgence 
as  long  as  she  lived.  William's  brothers,  by  this  match, 
were  Robert,  a  man  of  heavy,  sluggish  disposition,  whom  he 
made  earl  of  Moreton;  and  Odo,  whom,  while  he  was  earl, 
he  made  bishop  of  Bayeux ;  and  Avhen  king,  created  him  earl 
of  Kent.  Being  of  quicker  talents  than  the  other,  he  was 
governor  of  all  England,  under  the  king,  after  the  death  of 
William  Fitz-Osberne.  He  had  wonderful  skill  in  accumu- 
lating treasure;  possessed  extreme  craft  in  dissembling:  so 
that,  though  absent,  yet,  stuffing  the  scrips  of  the  pilgrims 
with  letters  and  money,  he  had  nearly  purchased  the  Roman 
papacy  from  the  citizens.  But  when,  through  the  rumour  of 
his  intended  journey,  soldiers  eagerly  flocked  to  him  from  all 
parts  of  the  kingdom,  the  king,  taking  offence,  threw  him 
into  confinement ;  saying,  that  he  did  not  seize  the  bishop  of 
Bayeux,  but  the  earl  of  Kent.  His  partisans  being  intimi- 
dated by  threats,  discovered  such  quantities  of  gold,  that  the 
heap  of  precious  metal  would  surpass  the  belief  of  the  present 
age ;  and,  at  last,  many  sackfuls  of  wrought  gold  were  also 
taken  out  of  the  rivers,  which  he  had  secretly  buried  in  cer- 

*    Agatha    and   Adeliza  were    their    names,  according    to   Ordericua 
Vitalis,  (lib.  iv.  512.) 


308  WILLIAM   OP   MALMESBURT.  [u.  m. 

tain  places.  When  released,  at  tlie  death  of  his  brother,  he 
joined   Robert's   party,    as   he   was   averse   to   his   nephew 

William :  but  then  too  matters  turning  out  unfavourably,  he 
was  banished  England,  and  went  over  to  his  nephew  and  his 
bishopric  in  Normandy.  Afterwards,  proceeding  with  him 
on  his  enterprize  to  Jerusalem,  he  died  at  Antioch  while  it 
was  besieged  by  the  Christians. 

King  William  kindly  admitted  foreigners  to  his  friend- 
ship; bestowed  honours  on  them  without  distinction,  and 
was  attentive  to  almsgiving;  he  gave  many  possessions  in 
England  to  foreign  churches,  and  scarcely  did  his  own 
munificence,  or  that  of  his  nobility,  leave  any  monastery  un- 
noticed, more  especially  in  Normandy,  so  that  their  poverty 
was  mitigated  by  the  riches  of  England.  Thus,  in  his  time, 
the  monastic  flock  increased  on  every  side ;  monasteries 
arose,  ancient  in  their  rule,  but  modern  in  building:  but 
here  I  perceive  the  muttering  of  those  who  say,  it  would 
have  been  better  that  the  old  should  have  been  preserved  in 
their  original  state,  than  that  new  ones  should  have  been 
erected  from  their  plunder. 

He  was  of  just  stature,  extraordinary  corpulence,  fierce 
countenance;  his  forehead  bare  of  hair:  of  such  great 
strength  of  arm,  that  it  was  often  matter  of  surprise,  that  no 

ne  was  able  to  draw  his  bow,  which  himself  could  bend 
when  his  horse  was  on  full  gallop :  he  was  majestic,  whether 
sitting  or  standing,  although  the  protuberance  of  his  belly 
deformed  his  royal  person:  of  excellent  health,  so  that  he 
was  never  confined  with  any  dangerous  disorder,  except  at 
the  last:  so  given  to  the  pleasures  of  the  chase,  that,  as  I 
have  before  said,  ejecting  the  inhabitants,  he  let  a  space  of 
many  miles  grow  desolate,  that,  when  at  liberty  from  other 
avocations,  he  might  there  pursue  his  pleasures.  He  gave 
sumptuous  and  splendid  entertainments,  at  the  principal 
festivals;  passing,  during  the  years  he  could  conveniently 
remain  in  England,  Christmas  at  Gloucester;  Easter  at 
Winchester;  Pentecost  at  Westminster.  At  these  times  a 
royal  edict  summoned  thither  all  the  principal  persons  of 
every  order,  that  the  ambassadors  from  foreign  nations  might 
admire  the  splendour  of  the  assemblage,  "and  the  costliness 
of  the  banquets.  Nor  was  he  at  any  time  more  affable  or 
indulgent;  in  order  that  the  visitants  might  proclaim  uni- 

A.D.  1087.  WILLIAMS   LOVE   OF    MONEY.  309 

versally,  that  liis  generosity  kept  pace  with  liis  riches.  This 
mode  of  banqueting  was  constantly  observed  by  his  first 
successor ;  the  second  omitted  it. 

His  anxiety  for  money  is  the  only  thing  for  which  he  can 
deservedly  be  blamed.*  This  he  sought  all  opportunities  of 
scraping  together,  he  cared  not  how ;  he  would  say  and  do 
some  tilings,  and,  indeed,  almost  any  tiling,  unbecoming  such 
great  majesty,  where  the  hope  of  money  allured  him.  I  have 
here  no  excuse  whatever  to  offer,  unless  it  be,  as  one  has 
said,  that,  "  Of  necessity,  he  must  fear  many,  whom  many 
fear."  For,  through  dread  of  liis  enemies,  he  used  to  drain 
the  country  of  money,  with  which  he  might  retard  or  repel 
their  attacks;  very  often,  as  it  happens  in  human  affairs, 
where  strength  failed,  purchasing  the  forbearance  of  his  ene- 
mies with  gold.  This  disgraceful  calamity  is  still  prevalent, 
and  every  day  increases ;  so  that  both  towns  and  churches 
are  subjected  to  contributions :  nor  is  this  done  with  firm- 
kept  faith  on  the  part  of  the  imposers,  but  whoever  offers 
more,  carries  the  prize;  all  former  agreements  being  disre- 

Residing  in  his  latter  days  in  Normandy,  when  enmity 
had  arisen  between  him  and  the  king  of  France,  he,  for  a 
short  period,  was  confined  to  the  house:  PliiHp,  scoffing  at 
this  forbearance,  is  reported  to  have  said,  "  The  king  of 
England  is  lying-in  at  Rouen,  and  keeps  his  bed,  like  a 
woman  after  her  delivery;"  jesting  on  his  belly,  which  he 
had  been  reducing  by  medicine.  Cruelly  hurt  at  this  sar- 
casm, he  replied,  "  When  I  go  to  mass,  after  my  confine- 
ment, I  will  make  him  an  offering  of  a  hundred  thousand 
candles."!  He  swore  this,  "  by  the  Resurrection  and  Glory 
of  God :"  for  he  was  wont  purposely  to  swear  such  oaths  as, 
by  the  very  form  of  his  mouth,  would  strike  terror  into  the 
minds  of  his  hearers. 

*  Some  MSS.  omit  from  "  money,"  fo  "  I  have,"  and  substitute,  This 
he  sought  all  opportunities  of  collecting,  provided  he  could  allege  that  they 
were  honourable,  and  not  unbecoming  the  royal  dignity.  But  he  will 
readily  be  excused,  because  a  new  government  cannot  be  administered 
without  large  revenues.     I  have,  «&c. 

t  The  Romish  ritual  directs  the  woman  to  kneel,  with  a  lighted  taper  in 
her  hand,  at  the  church  door,  where  she  is  sprinkled  with  holy  water,  and 
afterwards  conducted  into  the  church.  The  practice  seems  connected  with 
the  festival  of  the  Purification.    Vide  Durand,  lib.  vii.  c.  7, 

310  WILLIAM   OF   MALMESBUKT.  [b.  m. 

Not  long  after,  in  the  end  of  tlie  month  of  August,  when 
the  corn  was  ripe  on  the  ground,  the  clusters  on  the  vines, 
and  the  orchards  laden  with  fruit  in  full  abundance,  collect- 
ing an  army,  he  entered  France  in  a  hostile  manner,  tramp- 
ling down,  and  laying  every  thing  waste  :  nothing  could 
assuage  liis  irritated  mind,  so  determined  was  he  to  revenge 
this  injurious  taunt  at  the  expense  of  multitudes.  At  last 
he  set  fire  to  the  city  of  Mantes,  where  the  church  of  St. 
Mary  was  burnt,  together  with  a  recluse  who  did  not  think 
it  justifiable  to  quit  her  cell  even  under  such  an  emergency  ; 
and  the  whole  property  of  the  citizens  was  destroyed.  Ex- 
hilarated by  this  success,  while  furiously  commanding  his 
people  to  add  fuel  to  the  conflagration,  he  approached  too 
near  the  flames,  and  contracted  a  disorder  from  the  violence 
of  the  fire  and  the  intenseness  of  the  autumnal  heat.  Some 
say,  that  his  horse  leaping  over  a  dangerous  ditch,  ruptured 
his  rider,  where  his  belly  projected  over  the  front  of  the 
saddle.  Injured  by  this  accident,  he  sounded  a  retreat,  and 
returning  to  Rouen,  as  the  malady  increased  he  took  to  his 
bed.  His  physicians,  when  consulted,  affirmed,  from  an  in- 
spection of  his  urine,  that  death  was  inevitable.  On  hearing 
this,  he  filled  the  house  with  his  lamentations,  because  death 
had  suddenly  seized  him,  before  he  could  effect  that  reforma- 
tion of  life  which  he  had  long  since  meditated.  Recovering 
his  fortitude,  however,  he  performed  the  duties  of  a  Christian 
in  confession  and  receiving  the  communion.  Reluctantly, 
and  by  compulsion,  he  bestowed  Normandy  on  Robert  ;  to 
William  he  gave  England  ;  while  Henry  received  his  mater- 
nal possessions.  He  ordered  all  his  prisoners  to  be  released 
and  pardoned  :  his  treasures  to  be  brought  forth,  and  dis- 
tributed to  the  churches  :  he  gave  also  a  certain  sum  of 
money  to  repair  the  church  which  had  been  burnt.  Thus 
rightly  ordering  all  things,  he  departed  on  the  eighth  of  the 
ides  of  September,  [Sept.  6,]  in  the  fifty-ninth  year  of  his 
age  :  the  twenty-second  of  his  reign  :  the  fifty-second  of  his 
duchy  :  and  in  the  year  of  our  Lord  1087.  This  was  the 
same  year,  in  which  Canute,  king  of  Denmark,  as  we  have 
before  related,  was  killed  ;  and  in  which  the  Spanish  Sara- 
cens raging  against  the  Christians,  were  shortly  compelled 
to  retire  to  their  own  territories  by  Alphonso,  king  of  Gal- 
licia  ;  unwillingly  evacuating  even  the  cities  they  had  for- 
merly occupied. 

A.D.  1087]  BERENGAR  OF    TOURS.  311 

The  body,  enbalmed  after  royal  custom,  was  brought  down 
the  river  Seine  to  Caen,  and  there  consigned  to  the  earth,  a 
large  assembly  of  the  clergy  attending,  but  few  of  the  laity. 
Here  might  be  seen  the  wretchedness  of  earthly  vicissitude  ; 
for  that  man  who  was  formerly  the  glory  of  all  Europe,  and  more 
powerful  than  any  of  his  predecessors,  could  not  find  a  place 
of  everlasting  rest,  without  contention.  For  a  certain  knight, 
to  whose